JusticeAid Spring Public Forum

POSTPONED! |   Sunday, May 15, 2022, 4 PM  |  The Riverside Church of New York
We ran into some conflicts with our fabulous speakers,
so we are planning to reschedule – stay tuned!

For young people who identify as LGBTQ, these are perilous times. Adolescence and young adulthood for them often mean conflicts with family, classmates, and community members who cannot accept who they are. The results of this intolerance can be depression and anxiety, homelessness, and even suicide. Now, along with these stresses, young trans and queer people are confronting a global pandemic and renewed assaults on their rights in states like Texas, Florida and Ohio.

At our Spring Public Forum, Erasure: The Otherization of Queerness, our featured speaker, TransLast Media creator and award-winning journalist Imara Jones, will set the stage for a discussion, “Freedom to Be Queer: Overcoming Marginalization, Criminalization, and Erasure” with panelists Charles King, CEO, Housing Works, and Jorge Membreño, Deputy Executive Director at SMYAL. The uplifting music of the Resistance Revival Chorus will help us celebrate all the colors of the rainbow. The forum is free; please RSVP.


We are thrilled to forge our fourth partnership with the historic Riverside Church, an interdenominational, interracial, and international congregation in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. A focal point of global and national activism since its inception, The Riverside Church has a long history of social justice. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered sermons at Riverside between 1961 and 1967, most famously Beyond Vietnam on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before King’s assassination.

The Mission and Social Justice Commission seeks to transform individuals, communities, and systems of racial, economic, social, and environmental oppression. It encompasses 16 ministries, including Maranatha, which seeks to foster greater understanding and equity for LGBTQIA people and their allies. Other ministries include: The Lift Every Voice & Vote Ministry, The Prison Ministry, Sojourners Working with Individuals in Detention Centers, the Latino Ministry, and Black Lives Matters, among others.

SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. Through youth leadership, SMYAL creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and engage their peers and community through service and advocacy. Committed to social change, SMYAL builds, sustains, and advocates for programs, policies, and services that LGBTQ youth need as they grow into adulthood. Learn more about SMYAL here.

JusticeAid invites you to enjoy a unique live concert hosted by Emmy Award winner Mark Ruffin, featuring contemporary artists Paula Cole, Valerie Simpson, Nona Hendryx, Terri Lyne Carrington, Madeleine Peyroux, Allan Harris, Morley, Chris Bergson & Ellis Hooks, and Samara Joy performing a tribute to Bessie! Empress of the Blues. 100% of ticket sales and sponsorships will provide unrestricted funds for JusticeAid’s 2022 grantee partner, SMYAL (Supporting Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders).

As an organization at the nexus of justice and the arts, JusticeAid fittingly salutes Bessie Smith, who used her magnificent voice and theatricality to pioneer the genre of blues music and propel it into popular culture. Her music empowered women to be fearless, to express their sexual freedom, and to understand that a working-class woman doesn’t need to alter her behavior to be worthy of respect. Indeed, her songs still live and breathe because they are relevant today.