Mandy Carter

Resistance Studies Fellow

Mandy Carter

Mandy Carter is a southern African-American lesbian with a 52-year movement history of social, racial and LGBT justice organizing since 1967.  Raised in two orphanages and a foster home for her first 18 years in the state of New York, Ms. Carter attributes the influences of the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee, the former Institute for the Study of Nonviolence, and the pacifist-based War Resisters League for her sustained multi-racial and multi-issue organizing. 

It was specifically her participation in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired 1968 Poor People’s Campaign organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that solidified her sustained commitment to nonviolence. This was to have been Dr. King’s most dramatic appeal to the conscience of the nation, designed to call attention to the fact that thousands of American citizens -both white and black – continued to suffer poverty in the midst of plenty. Ms. Carter lived in the tent city named Resurrection City on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Poor People’s Campaign was the last project Dr. King was working on before his assassination in Memphis, TN on April 4, 1968. 

Ms. Carter helped co-found two ground breaking organizations. Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC).   SONG, founded in 1993, is about building progressive movement across the South by creating transformative models of organizing that connects race, class, culture, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Specifically, SONG integrates work against homophobia into freedom struggles in the South. She served as its Executive Director from 2003-2005. 

The National Black Justice Coalition, (NBJC) founded in 2003, is a national civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. NBJC's mission is to end racism and homophobia.  NBJC provides leadership at the intersection of national civil rights organizations and LGBTQ organizations. History was made at the 100th anniversary convention of the NAACP in 2009 when they rolled out their NAACP LGBT Equality Task Force. A new partnership of the NAACP and NBJC.  The LGBT Equality Task Force is comprised of seven members and is co-chaired by former NAACP National Chairman Julian Bond and California NAACP Chair Alice Huffman.  Both co-chairs have track records as champions of LGBT rights. 

In 2015, Ms. Carter received the Union Medal, the highest honor from the Union Theological Seminary, a leading progressive seminary and voice for justice, as did former Vice-President Al Gore. 

In 2015, Ms. Carter helped organize diverse broad-based participation for the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Selma-To-Montgomery Voting Rights March activities in Selma, Alabama. This1965 march moved Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act that enfranchised hundreds of thousands of blacks across the South. President Obama and the First Family were in attendance.

In 2013, Ms. Carter was national coordinator of the Bayard Rustin Commemoration Project of the National Black Justice Coalition. A national organizing effort to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate black gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.  The BRCP joined in the many activities marking the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. King gave his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.  Bayard Rustin, key organizer of the 1963 March, received the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom (post-humously) from President Obama that was presented to his surviving partner Walter Naegle at the White House. Bayard Rustin dared to live as an openly gay man during his 60 years of activism. 

Underscoring the importance of electoral politics in social change movements, Ms. Carter was one of the five national co-chairs of Obama LGBT Pride, the national LGBT infrastructure for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign and win. She had done the hard work of organizing grassroots networks, especially people of color throughout the South. She is a former member of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Caucus, Black Caucus and Women’s Caucus. 

Ms. Carter was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 in order to recognize, make visible and celebrate the impressive and valuable, yet often invisible peace work of thousands of women around the world.  The 1000 women from 150 countries were guided in their work by nonviolence, integrity, and selflessness.

With awards from many human rights and community organizations to acknowledge her achievements, Ms. Carter list of achievements includes:
*Co-Editor, We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America, 2012, PM Press/WRL . Co-Editors, Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, Matt Meyer
*SWERV Magazine Profile, Winter 2013 –Mandy Carter…the Journey of An Activist,  Clarence J. Fluker. 
*2018 Peace Award, War Resisters League,  On the occasion of WRL’s 95th Anniversary
*2014 Outstanding Community Leader Award, North Carolina Central University’s Lavender Graduation
*2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Honors, San Diego
*2013 Bayard Rustin Angelic Troublemaker Award, Center for Artistic Revolution, Little Rock, AR
*2011 Frank Porter Graham Award, ACLU North Carolina
*2003 Life Time Achievement Award, National Association of Black and White Men Together

*1999 Bayard Rustin Award, National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum
*1998 Woman of Distinction, Duke University Women’s Mentor Program.
*1996 Ms. Magazine “Uppity Women” Recipient, Ms. Magazine
*1995 Paul Anderson Stonewall Award, $25,000 Cash Award, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
*1995 OUT Magazine 100 Activists, OUT Magazine
*1993 War Resisters League Peace Award, On the occasion of WRL’s 70th Anniversary
*1993 Distinguished National Service Award, Gay & Lesbian Attorneys of Washington, DC
1990 Mab Segrest Award, North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence

The Mandy Carter Papers Collection was acquired as part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.  Repository of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Ms. Carter lives in Durham, North Carolina.