Sistah Summerfest 2003
                June 6-8, 2003
       An Event for Womyn of all Ages,
                               Lifestyles and Persuasions



Leaders & Legends FemmeNoir Events Contact Commentary Coffee Klatch Village

B. Lois Wadas
Rogue Amazons
Weird MC
Samiya A. Bashir
Brenda Fassie
Elizabeth Calvet
Marta Donayre
Imani Henry
Ntombi Howell
Hanifah Walidah
Mi$$ Money
Robin Renee
Joan Armatrading
Regina Shavers
Pamela Sneed
Destiny Deacon
Sweet Baby J'ai
Tiny & Ruby
A'Lelia Walker
D. Lisa Powell
Dorothy Randall Gray

Gladys Bentley

“It seems I was born different. At least, I always thought so,” blues singer Gladys “Fatso” Bentley recalled in a 1950 article she wrote for Ebony magazine. “From the time I can remember anything, even as I was toddling, I never wanted a man to touch me...Soon I began to feel more comfortable in boys’ clothes than in dresses.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1907, Bentley made her way to Harlem as a teenager and soon gained a reputation for improvising risqué songs set to popular melodies as well as for her outrageous flirtations with female fans. Performing in her trademark outfit, a tuxedo and top hat, Bentley became one of the standout stars of the Harlem Renaissance in the ’20s, which saw an outpouring of both African-American and lesbian and gay expression in music, poetry, art and dance.

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Alberta Hunter

At age twelve Alberta Hunter ran away from her hometown of Memphis to go to Chicago to become a Blues singer. She had a somewhat hard time at first but gradually, achieved her goal and became one of the most popular African American entertainers of the 1920s. She got her professional start in 1911 at a Southside club called Dago Frank's, a tough bordello frequented by pimps and criminals.

Alberta met Lottie Taylor (She was the niece of the famous African American entertainer Bert Williams) soon after the end of her marriage. The two became lovers and stayed together for many years. Alberta moved on to a club called Elite Cafe #1 (3030 South State Street) where New Orleans Ragtime pianist Tony Jackson tickled the keys. Unlike Alberta, Tony Jackson was openly gay, which must have taken a lot of guts back in those days.


Updated03/30/03 11:04:05 AM

Sidebars: Storme DeLaverie Tiny and Ruby
  Gladys Bentley Angelina Weld Grimké 
  Alberta Hunter  

View More Leaders/Legends In The Archives

Leaders & Legends
April 2003

Zuna Institute

In 1999, Zuna Institute was born at the kitchen table of sistahs who believe that the black lesbian community can benefit from a national presence. The discussion focused on creating an organization that would advocate on behalf of black lesbian's on a national level. While it is apparent that Black Lesbians across the country are doing the grassroots work to improve the quality of our lives, Zuna want's to build on this work by creating an organization that would advocate our position on issues on a national level. The founders also want to bridge the gap between geographically dispersed organizations and communities to provide a vehicle where we can join forces to become a more visible national community.


Vallerie Wagner
L.A. Committee

Vallerie is a community activist advocating for the human rights of  lesbian/ gay/ bisexual/ transgender persons for more than 10 years. An advocate for bridging the gap between the lesbian and gay communities, Vallerie is also committed to empowering lesbians to recognize their strength both individually and collectively. She has served on several boards including the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum (the Forum), United Lesbians of African Heritage (ULOAH), the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Los Angeles Unified School District's Gay and Lesbian Education Commission. She currently is chair of the Los Angeles Committee for Zuna's National Black Lesbian Conference.  In 1995, she attended the 4th International Women's Conference in Beijing, China as an open lesbian and participated in an international lesbian march through the streets of Hairou, China.


Brenda Crawford
Executive Director PRTA
Elder Speak Project

Brenda Crawford is Executive Director of  Progressive Research and Training for Action (PRTA) founded in Oakland, California, in 1990, as the nonprofit Pacific Research and Training Alliance.  Brenda has over twenty-five years of executive administrative experience in community based nonprofit organization. She has worked in a wide variety of human services organization such as the Berkeley YWCA, West Oakland Health Center Substance Abuse Treatment Services and the Contra County Sexual Assault & Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Center. In her more than twenty-five years of executive experience she has managed large complex budgets, supervised a staff of fifty. She has had the ability to develop a team spirit and goal oriented directions with all the staff in the agencies, which she has worked, She is a skilled negotiator and consensus builder at all organizational levels. For the last nine years she has own an operated Crawford & Associates a Management Consultant Firm that specializes in nonprofit management issues. She works with approximately fifty agencies per year. Brenda has a recognized and proven body of work both locally as well as nationally.


D. Lisa Powell
Executive Director ULOAH
NBLC Speaker

Friday, April 11, 2003

D. Lisa Powell is the Co-Founder of United Lesbians of African Heritage (ULOAH) and SISTAHfest. Originally from Michigan, Ms. Powell majored in economics, history, and philosophy and received her Bachelor of Arts with honors from Michigan State University in 1980. She received her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law in 1984.

After working to protect the legal rights of the indigent and the elderly at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Ms. Powell joined a Los Angeles law firm and specialized in civil litigation. She rose to Senior Trial Attorney and became very well known in LA County courtrooms for her creative and entertaining approach to jury trials. In fact, after thirteen years, Ms. Powell has never lost a case.


Akilah Monifa
Author, Media Trainer & Strategist
NBLC Speaker, Saturday, April 12, 2003

Akilah Monifa was born in Manhattan, KS and raised in Huntsville, AL. After practicing law for several years, she moved to her favored career and is now a writer. "When I think about issues of beauty in this society, being heavy isn't considered ideal. Neither is being this tall. Neither is being African-American, or wearing dreadlocks. Neither is being a lesbian. So among all these various issues, weight is simply one more."

Akilah Monifa has a rich career in teaching, media activism, and journalism. She was press officer for Medea Benjamin's Green Party candidacy for U.S. Senate in California. Although an underdog candidate, Benjamin did score media hits and managed to "jam" a broader progressive message into the 2000 elections thanks in part to Akilah.


Jewell Gomez
NBLC Speaker

Sunday, April 13, 2003

In the dense literary jungle of San Francisco, the vivacious and indefatigable creativity of Gomez remains one of the most outstanding stands of foliage. Gomez, executive director of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State, has seen her poetry, fiction and criticism grace the pages of The New York Times and such anthologies as Daughters of Africa. She has received two Lambda Literary Awards, and the stage adaptation of her novel for Urban Bush Women, Bones and Ash: A Gilda Story, is touring the U.S.

Jewelle Gomez is a writer and activist and the author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, THE GILDA STORIES from Firebrand Books. Her adaptation of the book for the stage -- Bones & Ash: a Gilda Story---was performed by the Urban Bush Women company in 13 U.S. cities.


Dorothy Randall Gray

NBLC Workshop Facilitator


Dorothy Randall Gray is a best-selling author, popular speaker and nationally acclaimed creative consultant whose self actualization seminars and powerful creative writing workshops have inspired thousands throughout the United States and abroad. She has been featured on radio and television, at museums, universities and cultural institutions.

Formerly on the faculty at New York University, Poet-In-Residence at Hunter College, and executive  Director of Red Hook Arts, Dorothy is a founder of the Heartland Institute for Transformation, an organization dedicated to the use of writing and spirit as a source of creativity, transformation, empowerment and healing. She is listed in Poets & Writers , Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers as well as Who's Who   International Authors and Writers, and is a board memebr of the International Women's Writing Guild.















Hot Topic:

Storme DeLaverie

Storme DeLarverie, a black woman who was the emcee and a male impersonator in the legendary Jewel Box Review, America's first integrated female impersonation show.  From 1939 to 1973, the show toured black theaters across America and was in Washington, D.C., during the McCarthy era--defying common sense and `50s morality

Storme DeLarverie is a living legend, jazz singer, and male impersonator.  At the age of 80, DeLarveri is still recognized for her steadfast advocacy for the rights of gays and lesbians.

Tiny and Ruby

legendary jazz trumpeter Tiny Davis and her lover and partner of over 40 years, drummer Ruby Lucas (a.k.a. Renee Phelan). Billed as the "female Louis Armstrong" in the 1940s, Tiny was until recently blowing her trumpet in Chicago blues clubs.

Angelina Weld Grimké

Angelina Weld Grimké was born in 1880 in Boston, the only child of Archibald Grimké and Sarah Stanley. Angelina had a mixed racial background; her father was the son of a white man and a black slave, and her mother was from a prominent white family. Her parents named her after her great aunt Angelina Grimké Weld, a famous white abolitionist and women's rights advocate.

Only her poetry reveals Angelina's romantic love toward women. The majority of her poems are love poems to women or poems about grief and loss. Some (particularly those published during her lifetime) deal with racial concerns, but the bulk of her poems are about other women, and were unlikely to be published for this reason. Only about a third of her poetry has been published to date.