Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr. was born on this day, July 1. He is the founder, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Black Equity, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Caucus, and a widely respected HIV/AIDS activist.
Earl Douglas Fowlkes, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Earl Douglas Fowlkes, Sr., who worked for the United States Government and is a Baptist minister, and the late Elsie Fowlkes (nee Addison-Henderson) who was a homemaker. Earl Jr. was the oldest of five children who include Kenneth, the late Sharon, Steven and Cheryl. He attended John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary School and Willingboro Memorial Junior High School. He is a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Willingboro, New Jersey. After high school, Earl attended Rutgers University and earned his history degree at City College of New York.
Growing up in the suburbs, Earl Fowlkes often felt a sense of isolation and frustration because he had no one to talk to about his feelings. He immersed himself in sports, excelling in tennis, baseball and football. He says that he felt no pressure growing up to have a girlfriend, and was not exposed to homophobia, not even at his father’s church.
Earl Fowlkes is the founder, president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity (CBE), formerly known as the International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP). He founded the IFBP in 1999 as a coalition of Black Pride organizers from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa which came together to promote a multinational network of LGBT pride and community-based organizations. There are currently over 40 Black Pride events with more than 350,000 attendees each year.
The CBE is the only Black LGBT international organization in the world with organizational and individual membership in Canada, United Kingdom, Ghana, Uganda, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil and Zimbabwe. The Center for Black Equity works to achieve Health Equity, Economic Equity and Social Equity while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination. Earl’s leadership has strengthened the CBE’s global efforts to support leaders, institutions, issues and programs that lead to social, economic, and cultural equality for all LGBT people of African descent. He is committed to growing his organization to meet the needs of Black LGBTQ men and women around the world.
Earl has traveled extensively, and he interacts daily with men and women of African descent who are same-gender loving/trans. He is touched by the similarities that others reflect, and the common hopes that unite this community of individuals. Everyone echoes a similar desire to live in peace and harmony with their family and community, to be allowed to be a full person in both public and private, to worship their higher power with others of the same faith without judgment and to build a family in whatever form that comes.
Earl Fowlkes previously served fifteen years as the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Comprehensive AIDS Resources and Education Consortium (DC CARE Consortium) and for Damien Ministries, organizations that provided services to persons living with HIV/AIDS in Washington, DC. Licensed as a social worker (New Jersey), he served as Assistant Project Coordinator and Project Coordinator of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation’s Hudson County office in Jersey City, New Jersey, from 1990 through 1996. His current and past service includes Chair of the Washington, DC Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee and the city’s Commission on Human Rights; At-Large Member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Chair of its LGBT Caucus; President of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; and member of the Washington AIDS Partnership Steering Committee, the Metropolitan Police (DC) Critical Incident Team, and the DC Commission on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.
Earl has put a very public face on the Black, gay community in our nation’s capital and yet strives to keep his public life and private life very separate. But that public life frequently asks much of him and he responds in his quiet and determined fashion. Earl has received numerous honors and awards, and was named one of three 2013 Grand Marshals of the Heritage of Pride (NYC Gay Pride) march along with Harry Belafonte and Edith Windsor. Earl is considered an expert on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues, has written numerous articles and op-eds, and has appeared on the Roland Martin and Michael Baisden shows.
Earl is passionate about his work and finds encouragement from his many friends around the world. He loves sports, and is a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles, and the LA Lakers. He can be found at the US Open in New York every year, and passionately supports the Washington Kastles of the World Team Tennis League. Earl also enjoys reading, especially history. He currently resides in Washington, DC.