Throughout the month of February, Family Equality Council is celebrating Black History Month by honoring the accomplishments, contributions, and lives of LGBT Black Americans, past and present.
Mabel Hampton (5/2/1902-10/26/1989)—Activist and dancer during the Harlem Rennaissance. Hampton grew up in North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey. As a teenager, she was wrongfully imprisoned in a women’s reformatory on charges of prostitution. Later, Hampton began dancing with an all-women troupe on Coney Island, and performed at the Lafayette Theater and the Garden of Joy. In 1932, she met her lifelong partner Lillian Foster—they remained together until Foster’s death in 1978. When dance work became scarce, Hampton began a career in domestic work. She contributed to many political and charitable causes throughout her lifetime, and marched in the first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington. Mabel Hampton also documented her life and contemporaries’; much of this archival material was left to the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Hampton appears in the 1980s documentaries Before Stonewall and Silent Pioneers. You can hear her story in her own words here.