First black hailed from Liberia to become president of Human Rights Campaign in U.S. talks about his departure from home country to A1 WAWM 88.5FM Live

Counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Alphonso B. David speaks on stage at World AIDS Day at Kings Theatre in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Housing Works, Inc.

The new president of the HRC has been involved in politics his whole life, whether he wanted to be or not.

One night when he was young, he awoke to the sounds of gunshots outside the front door of his family home in Liberia. To keep his children safe, David’s father threw him and his sisters out of a window. Soldiers entered the home and fired bullets into their beds.

Alphonso David survived the 1980 military coup in Liberia. His uncle, Liberian President William Tolbert, had not. David’s father was imprisoned, and his family placed under house arrest. Once they were released, they applied for political asylum in the United States and eventually moved to Baltimore. David soon learned what it was like to be different in America:

An immigrant, an African, and a black person in the United States. I was the other. If I was in the room, I became the object of laughter and ridicule. It could be someone of my own race, or someone of a different race. It happened. It happened often. Eventually I came to understand I wasn’t just a Black man, an immigrant and a child of refugees. I was also gay.

Last month, David became president of Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ political advocacy organization in the U.S. He is the first person of color to lead the organization.

David was the first openly gay person to serve as counsel to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Previously, he served as deputy secretary and counsel for civil rights in New York. He was involved in bringing marriage equality to the state and expanding protections for transgender residents.

What are his priorities for HRC? How is the organization going to better serve the transgender community? What does he think of the 2020 Democratic field?


Produced by Danielle Knight of 1A WAMU 88.5 FM.


Alphonso David President, Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest national LGBTQ advocacy organizations; civil rights attorney; @AlphonsoDavid

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