We are so excited to welcome Que to the 2017 TJFP community grantmaking panel!
Quentin “Que” Bell is a Black Trans activist, entrepreneur, and mentor born and raised in historic Selma, Alabama. Que received his Bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University in Business Administration with an Entrepreneurial Concentration. In the fall, Que, will be attending Auburn University pursuing a Master’s of Public Administration focusing on Non-Profit Management. While at ASU Que found a way to combine his entrepreneurial spirit with his passion for advocacy and founded The Knights & Orchids Society. TKO is a southern centered grassroots startup led by black, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people fighting at the intersections of racial and gender justice. Since 2012 Quentin’s goal remains unchanged, to improve the quality of life within the LGBTQ+ community by creating safe spaces that empower, educate, and unite Trans, GNC, & Queer role models of color. Que has dedicated his adult life to actively serving in leadership positions to help advance the fight for LGBTQ equality and inclusion while increasing visibility for Trans men of color.
During such challenging times, let us remind ourselves that we are each other’s strength and purpose.
Over the past year, TJFP has sat with many of you as you shared your truth and struggles. To honor you we created a small reminder of what our communities are striving for and how those of you “on the ground”, doing the work everyday, define “Trans Justice.”
Every year on Trans Day of Remembrance, we remember the names of those taken from us as well the names of those still with us. We see how hard you work to build the necessary supports needed for survival. We know this is not always easy and often it can be messy but it’s a beautiful thing to see how we’ve been able to support each other on our individual journeys and collective paths towards justice and liberation–in all the ways it looks.
After spending an amazing five days in Tennessee and Mississippi, we drove East to Alabama and our first stop was the historic Selma. We could feel the momentous energy of the city the minute we arrived. The first thing we did was pick up our camera’s and walk over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This bridge was the site of Bloody Sunday where an estimated 500 – 600 civil rights marchers were brutally attacked by state troopers as they headed from Selma to Montgomery in support of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign in 1965.
Later that day, we met with activist Quentin Bell, local Selman and founder of The Knights and Orchids Society (TKO). We sat outside along the Alabama River, at sunset and listened to Quentin talk about how the history of his hometown inspires him everyday to fight for trans justice in Selma.
That night we drove back to Birmingham, full of life and firmly committed to justice and liberation for our trans community. It was only heightened when we spoke to Daroneshia Duncan, founder of TAKE (Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering), an organization that provides supportive services to transgender people in Alabama. Our conversations with Daroneshia came on the heels of two recent attacks on trans women of color in Alabama–Jazz Alford, who was shot and killed and another, a member of TAKE, who was shot and is currently still in the hospital.
As we left the city of Birmingham we watched the landscape once again transition back into windy country roads, lined with thick beautiful forests. The words and experiences of Quentin, Daroneshia, and other Alabamans we spoke to, stay with us.
Our ancestors who crossed that bridge in Selma were met by state police and beaten, and those Civil Rights protesters continued to fight even after “Bloody Sunday”. Many of the lessons of the past are also our blueprint for our future and we cannot afford to lose our history or each other. Thank you to everyone we spoke with in Alabama and for being exactly who you are, where you are.
Stay tuned as we our share highlights from our next stop, Little Rock Arkansas!