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Mandy Carter
2013 Icon


b. November 2, 1948

“Sometimes you have to be bold and take a risk.”

Mandy Carter describes herself as an “out, southern, black, lesbian, social justice activist.” She has been advocating for human rights for more than 45 years. 

Born in Albany, New York, Carter was raised in orphanages and the foster care system. After high school, she attended Hudson Valley Community College before dropping out and moving to New York City. She met a group of people at the League for Spiritual Discovery and traveled with them to San Francisco. In 1969, she joined the War Resisters League.  

In 1992, Carter became a public policy advocate for the Human Rights Campaign. The following year, she helped establish Southerners on New Ground, an organization that integrates people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and working class members of the LGBT community in the South. She cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, the only national organization focused on African-American LGBT civil rights. 

In the 2000 election, she participated in the statewide voter empowerment campaign, which produced one of Florida’s largest turnouts of black voters. In 2008, Carter was a National Co-Chair for Obama Pride.

Carter won a Spirit of Justice Award from GLAD for advancing LGBT rights. The National Organization for Women called her “one of the nation’s leading African-American lesbian activists.”

She is the National Coordinator for the Bayard Rustin Commemoration Project of the National Black Justice Coalition. Carter lives in Durham, North Carolina.