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Leaders & Legends

Read bios on trailblazing lesbian, bisexual & transgender women of color― writers, activists, historians, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, entertainers― all talented mentors who have served or are serving within our community

April 01, 2006

Angelina Weld Grimke



Angelina Weld Grimké was born on February 27, 1880 in Boston, the only child of Archibald Grimké and Sarah Stanley who was from a prominent white family. 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.

When Grimké was three years old, her mother left her father, taking her daughter with her. After four years she returned Angelina to her father and the child never saw her mother again. Archibald, Angelina’s father, was a well known lawyer who was the executive director of the NAACP. Angelina was able to attend one of the finest schools in Massachusetts, the Carleton Academy in Ashburnham.

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Angela Davis


Civil Rights Activist, Scholar

“There is often as much heterogeneity within a black community, or more heterogeneity, than in cross-racial communities. An African-American woman might find it much easier to work together with a Chicana than with another black woman whose politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality would place her in an entirely different community. What is problematic is the degree to which nationalism has become a paradigm for our community-building processes. We need to move away form such arguments as “Well, she’s not really black.” “She comes from such-and-such a place.” “Her hair is…” “She doesn’t listen to ‘our’ music,” and so forth. What counts as black is not so important as our political commitment to engage in anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic work.” Angela Davis, speaking on “Building Coalitions of People of Color” at University of California, San Diego, May 12, 1993.

A scholar, activist, and professed Communist, Angela Davis (born 1944) became a leading advocate of civil rights for blacks in the United States.

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Alicia Banks


Radio Producer, Talk Show Host, DJ, Columnist

“Musicologist, activist, and cyber columnist is how Alicia Banks describes herself. But she’s better known to her fans and detractors as a popular talk radio personality. She is the producer, creator, and host of two radio shows…Alicia heats up early morning airwaves with her take no prisoners approach. But her shock-jock comparisons end with her eclectic mix of music and anti-racist interpretation….”GIRLFRIENDS MAGAZINE 9/97.

Alicia Banks hosted AM and FM radio shows in Atlanta GA, the heart of the bible belt of America and is the only out gay person in the nation known to have hosted a prime time commercial radio talk show. Her FM show mixes the musical and literary voices of Black women with musical, political and sexual diversity. She writes a column, Eloquent Fury. Her pending book of radical essays “Outlook: The Book” will soon be scheduled for release. She can be heard on KABF in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Alexis De Veaux



“I’m interested in the relationship between history and literature, so I like to investigate how African American women and women of color construct our visions of history while appropriating literary forms. I see our contemporary literatures as agents of social change, critical to our different but similar struggles for self-determination and peoplehood. As a writer intimately engaged in this process myself, I teach courses that are designed to challenge the dominant paradigms of history, literature, and creativity.”

Alexis De Veaux is a poet, playwright , and novelist born and raised in New York City. Her plays include, Circles, Tapestry, and A Season to Unravel, which was produced by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1979. She has also published a novel, “Spirits In The Street,” and a picture book, “NA-NI.” She is currently poetry editor of Essence Magazine. She is an associate professor of Women’s Studies at the University at Buffalo and has traveled as an artist and lecturer throughout the U.S., Africa, Europe, Japan and the Caribbean.

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Alberta Hunter



(1895 – 1984)

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. She stayed there until 1913, when the place was closed after a murder in the club. She then moved on to a small night club and managed to save enough money to bring her mother north to Chicago and support her for the rest of her life.

Alberta was married briefly, but never consummated the union, using the excuse that she didn’t want to have sex in the same house where her mother lived, but the real story was that Hunter was a lesbian. Her husband moved back to the South and she never saw him again. Alberta met Lottie Taylor soon afterwards. She was the niece of the famous African American entertainer Bert Williams. The two became lovers and stayed together for many years.

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Akilah Monifa


Media Trainer & Strategist

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.

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Akasha Gloria Hull



Poet, writer, historian and critic Akasha Gloria Hull is the author of Soul Talk: The New Spirituality of African American Women. The book is an compelling blend of stories, practical advice about spirituality in daily life, and intimate conversations with some of American's most influential black writers, including Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Toni Cade Bambara, Sonia Sanchez, Michele Gibbs, Dolores Kendrick, Masani Alexis De Veaux, Namonyah Soipan and Geraldine McIntosh. Topics include healing, race, Christianity, New Age religion, African and neo-African spirituality, feminism, creativity, and communing with one's ancestors.

Akasha Gloria Hull is also the author of Healing Heart (1989), a volume of original poetry. Other works include Color, Sex and Poetry: Three Women of the Harlem Renaissance (1987), Give Us Each Day: The Diary of Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1986), and the ground-breaking curriculum guide, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave (1982), a vigorous assertion of the black female voice in response to its marginalization by the feminist and civil rights movements. The book received both the Outstanding Women of Color Award and the Women Educator's Curriculum Material Award.

Akasha Gloria Hull has received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. Since 1988, she has served as Professor of Women's Studies and Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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