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Elle Moxley on the Inclusion of Black LGBTQ+ Communities in Black Resistance Movements

Photo Credit:
Elle Moxley

Bayard Rustin, Pauli Murray, Alvin Ailey, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Barbara Jordan and Marsha P. Johnson are just some of many members from the LGBTQ+ community who have exhibited forms of Black Resistance in their art and their work. From Pauli Murray whose 1944 Howard University paper became the basis for the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court case argued by classmate Thurgood Marshall, to Bayard Rustin who organized the 1963 March on Washington to the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Black Queer activists, artists, and community leaders have fought in black resistance movements since the early 1900s. Whether through art, politics, or advocacy it’s hard to deny the impact of the Black Queer Community when it comes to social justice. 

Elle Moxley is a black liberation artist, speaker, writer and transgender rights activist. A freedom fighter, advocating for Black Trans Lives and multicultural women’s stories, she has led campaigns including “Raise The Debate,” #SayHerName National Day of Action and the first-ever National Day of Action for BLACK Trans Women in 2015. She has been recognized within Essence’s Woke 100, The Root 100’s Most Influential African Americans, and Avenue Magazine’s Power List 100. 

In Dec.  2022, the DuSable Museum hosted “The Color is Fashion Exhibition” which discussed the black resistance movement in fashion. The “Power in Presentation” panel was led by Elle Moxley with panelists Nick and Jack Cave, and Michaela Angela Davis and discussed how self-identity, black lives matter, hip-hop and other black movements intersect in the discussion of black art resistance. Moxley says celebrating the work of artists, Nick and Jack Cave was an incredible opportunity. 

“Fashion has given so many people opportunities to express themselves in ways that they might not be able to, to verbally or spiritually. So, what Nick and Jack created was not only fashion art, but fashion art that told a story about the plight of not only black people, but the plight of black trans and queer people. We were honored to participate as the lead sponsor.”

 "The Color Is" exhibition included 40-45 couture looks and fashion objects created by Nick Cave and Jack Cave and a number of specialty collaborators. According to both Nick and Jack Cave the clothing is genderless. "I am proud to be able to showcase so many facets of the Black experience through fashion, especially alongside my brother, Nick, "said Jack Cave. "The process of being able to combine both of our individual styles and work them into one fluid exhibit that educates and celebrates everything from sustainability, queer liberation, and Black presence in mainstream high fashion has been an honor.”

 Moxley founded the Marsha P. Johnson Institute to support advocacy for the Black Trans Community. The institute works on social justice issues specifically those involving racial, gender, and reproductive justice in addition to gun violence. Moxley said the foundation was birthed out of her own lived experience. “I wanted to make sure that the movement that I had been a part had a place to live, specifically the contributions of black trans people to the larger movements that were forming across us globally. It made sense to have an organization to support this type of advocacy.”

The institute works to protect and defend the rights of black transgender people in the U.S. through advocacy, coalition building and building their capacity. According to the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, “hate crimes against transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals have been on the rise for years. In addition, studies show that Black trans people have an unemployment rate twice as high of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in the trans community and four times as high as the general population. Homeless rates and suicides rates are also extremely higher than the national average in the black trans community. 

It is these alarming statistics that drive the work of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. The institute launched several programs to support black transgender individuals. In 2022, they launched a digital resource map that includes support, resources and information in almost every state in the U.S. The list includes resources like housing, food security, legal and financial support, COVID-19 relief, health/wellness, employment, social support, and more listed by state and organized by asset. The institute also offers The Marsha P. Johnson Fellowship program that is centered on the arts and community organizing. They also have the Starship artist Fellowship where artists will work to create pieces that reflect their vision for a Black Trans Renaissance and the Organizing Fellowship that builds the capacity of organizers in the Midwest and in the South fighting back against the murders of trans women, unjust local and national laws that strip trans people of humanity, homelessness, joblessness, and high rates of suicide. 
For more information on the Marsha P. Johnson Institute visit their website at www.marshap.org
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About Author:

Danielle Sanders is a multimedia professional with over 20 years of experience as a writer, journalist, and editor. Danielle frequently covers politics, local news, and entertainment.



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