NIU junior Romeo Jackson, a contract major with an emphasis in intersectionality and social justice, traveled Feb. 21 to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Black LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Emerging Leaders Day.
Jackson was one of only 200 students from across the country chosen to participate in facilitated conversations led by federal public policy experts in economic security and justice; health and wellness; youth empowerment; education; and veterans affairs.
Part of the day-long event took place in the White House, where Jackson learned more about the Obama administration’s commitment to equal rights for all Americans and the important steps that have been taken to ensure health, well-being, security, justice and equality for LGBT Americans, especially people of color.
“Rarely do I feel as affirmed in the interactions of my black and queer identities as I did at this event. It was truly a powerful and affirming moment, and it was an honor to experience this while representing NIU at the national level,” Jackson said. “To be in a room filled with other black LGBT folks discussing policies that directly impact us is so rare. Few events have impacted me with as much force.”
As a student and leader at NIU, Jackson is a staff member at the LGBT & Women’s Resource Center, where he coordinates the Straight Talk LGBTQA Speaker’s Bureau, facilitates programs and events for students, and is a program, research and outreach assistant for women’s programs.
His leadership positions at NIU include serving as the Women’s Rights Alliance vice president, being a member of the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and serving the student organization Prism in a variety of roles.
He also has served at the national level by being a founding member of the Campus Pride Advisory Board, an organization aimed at fostering LGBTQA student leaders at colleges and universities, and he has presented at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference.
“Romeo truly is leader,” said Molly Holmes, director of the LGBT & Women’s Resource Center. “He advocates for his other students’ abilities to connect all of their identities, without feeling pressure to choose only parts of who they are. NIU is lucky to have Romeo as its representative at critical events like this one.”
His next endeavor is co-facilitating the “Beyonce’s F-Word” discussion, which begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, as part of Women’s History Month events. Call (815) 753-0320 or email [email protected] for more information.