The National Association of Black & White Men Together (NABWMT) is an organization that came into prominence in the 80s, largely in response to the AIDS crisis of that era. It was one of those circumstantial benefits arising from great tragedy that outlives its original mission and stays relevant for new reasons.
NABWMT celebrated its thirtieth anniversary here in Fort Lauderdale this past week and, although around 75 people attended their Annual Awards Banquet, they probably reached an audience of hundreds through events and discussions at various locations throughout the week, including at Marriot North Hotel, Matty’s On the Drive, The Manors and Pride Center at Equality Park.
“The growth of our organization has ebbed and flowed over the years,” says Scott Duty, a co-chair of the National Association. “We had thousands of members before we buried half of them in the AIDS crisis. Today we fight to remain relevant in places like Washington, D.C. It’s hard for an organization when half of your membership died in a short span of time.”
Don’t let the name of Black & White Men Together fool you; plenty of women participate in the group as well. This year, Nadine Smith of Equality Florida and author/activist Deon Davis were guest speakers at the convention. A wide range of topics were explored to the fullest, including but not limited to: using the Internet to expand the effectiveness of chapter socials; anger and annoyances that divide people racially; de-stressing with yoga and meditation; chemical dependency and psychiatric treatment; HIV testing and counseling; anti-bias and hate crimes; spirituality; the “House Community”; and a talent show.
“One of the most important things we do as a caucus at the National Convention is we have discussions about what’s relevant to our community at the time,” says Scott Duty. “This year the caucus discussion was about ‘Whites, Blacks, The Presidency and Where Do We Fit In?’ and we discussed what the administration has done in terms of gay rights. We also did a break-out on HIV/AIDS and discussed what’s going on with that around the nation.”
“What’s important to keep in mind,” Duty explains, “is that we don’t exist as an organization for those major metropolitan areas which we represent as much as we’re here for those smaller towns like Mobile, Alabama. They’re trying to start a chapter but they can’t get people to go because it’s simply not safe for them to be seen going to anything that’s known as gay. So we’re really here to help them.”
For more information, visit www.NABWMT.org.