School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

LGBTQ+ activist speaks about building coalitions at UM

Posted on: February 18th, 2020 by ldrucker

Mandy Carter is an LGBTQ+ activist who has been in the field of social justice for over 50 years. On Feb. 13, more than 100 students, faculty members, and guests gathered in the Overby Center as a panel of students listened to Carter to discuss the importance of building coalitions across communities.

In 2005, Carter was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which recognized her work as a leading African American lesbian activist. Her work has carried her all over the states, but this was Carter’s first visit to the University of Mississippi. Rather than giving a speech, Carter held a collective conversation with the panel, opening up the floor for audience interaction.

Mandy Carter. Photo by Tate Dye.

Mandy Carter. Photo by Tate Dye.

During this conversation, Carter used her personal experiences to emphasize the importance of creating strong communities and safe spaces. These alliances have the power to positively affect a widespread population.

Carter is one of the co-founders of Southerners On New Ground, an organization that focuses specifically on social justice in the South. SONG combats homophobia and freedom struggles in the South.

Throughout her career, Carter has seen the negative impact of injustice and the positive power of activism. She encouraged the audience to consider what activism is supposed to look like, and challenged the audience to ask, “How can I be a part of that conversation?”

When facing issues of social injustice, Carter urged the audience to rely upon the power and impact of community. On a college campus, division is evident. How can students at this university come together to make an impact?

“Every day, we wake up, and we should be asking ourselves what we can get done—especially on a college campus…If you tell yourself you don’t have the platform to be the next MLK, then you’ll never know what you could accomplish.”

Evident through her powerful stories, Carter’s mission to create these coalitions has not been easy. Since 1968, when Carter began her activist career, the world has changed tremendously, but Carter notes that we still have much more to accomplish.

Mandy Carter. Photo by Tate Dye.

Mandy Carter. Photo by Tate Dye.

“Silence is the voice of complicity,” she said. “You have a voice. Use that voice for good.”

Wrapping up her conversation, Carter invited audience members to measure their level of optimism on a scale from 1 to 10 every morning. With this simple activity, individuals can maintain a better grasp on who they are, which can allow for stronger connections with others.

While celebrating individual differences, it is important to keep these differences from becoming dividing factors. The strength of a community starts with its individual members, and Carter believes that this has the power to make positive change every day.

This story was written by Tate Dye. If you have a comment or question, email tbdye@go.olemiss.edu.

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