IN THE BEGINNING
The Black & Pink story begins in 2005 when our founder Jason Lydon decided to institute an organization that was rooted in abolishing the prison industrial complex. The organization began as an explicitly anarchist project, so the name - Black & Pink - was chosen to represent the black flag of anarchism and the power of queer politics and experience. We collaborated with Brothers Behind Bars, the prison pen pal project of the Radical Faeries - sowing the seeds for what would become a pivotal aspect of our programming, our own pen pal system. Jason began writing to others who were incarcerated alongside him, and more through word of mouth.
In 2006, Black & Pink officially launched our first website and the pen pal database went live. That same year we had our first public action, disrupting the Cambridge, MA National Coming Out Day event at City Hall and we co-organized with the Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition, SHaRC, in efforts to stop the Chicopee Women’s Jail. By the end of the year, 150 prison members were with us.
OUR MOVEMENT GROWS
In 2007 our first newsletter was released. That same year we began to participate in national campaigns and gatherings, and in 2008 we were added to resource lists distributed to prisoners across the country. The year 2010 saw the first iteration of the Black & Pink Art project from the inside born, and the creation of our triangle and fists logo.
A NEW DECADE,
A NEW DAWN
In 2011 we developed new training and curriculum for workshops presented across the country. 2012 saw us become a fiscally sponsored project of Out Now in Springfield, MA. The Flying Over Concrete Walls Chapter in San Francisco slowly begins its formation and we moved in our City School location.
The year of 2013 was groundbreaking for us. We transitioned our folded newsletter into a newspaper format for monthly publication. Our erotica zine - Hot Pink - and our spiritual zine - Spirit Inside - were both born. A new website was created and launched as we continued to grow. Our Chicago and San Diego chapters were added to our national family, and we ended our prisoner leadership circle member effort and shifted to prisoner feedback forms in the newspaper.
COMING OUT OF CONCRETE CLOSETS
When Black & Pink undertook the prison survey for direct data from members on the inside that became Coming Out of Concrete Closets in 2014, it produced the largest data collection of its kind.
With 1,200 prisoners responding, the narratives uncovered and pieced together shown a powerful light into the realities of the prison industrial complex and its impact on LGBTQIA2S+ and HIV/AIDS positive individuals.
That same year, chapters in New York City, western Massachusetts, and Ohio sprang forth. In 2015 Coming Out of Concrete Closets findings were released to the public to widespread attention. We also welcomed the Denver and Providence chapters to our family.
LOOKING TO OUR FUTURE
In 2016 our capacity of inside members surpassed 10,000. We were honored to receive the organizational award from The Network / La Red for our efforts. We built relationships with Sex Workers Outreach Project Behind Bars and PARCES, an LGBTQIA2S+ prisoner support organization in Bogota, Colombia.
That year we also officially became a 501c3 and debuted the Inside Art exhibit in New York City to huge success. In 2017, our founder Jason Lydon formally stepped down and we welcomed Tray Johns to the position of National Director. That year we hosted our second National Gathering and spent time in workshops, celebrating, and planning the future of Black & Pink.
We later welcomed Dominique Morgan as our new National Director, after a period of transition. In 2018 Dominique brought our national office to Omaha, Nebraska in March and launched our REAP program in May, which seeks to provide resources and support to members re-entering. In September we launched our TRANSitions program to support trans women coming out of prisons. We ended 2018 with officially bringing Black & Pink to our new home offices at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.
As we continue to grow as an organization, as a family, and as a community of accomplices - we will always hold true to our foundational and radical beliefs in the capacity for good, in the abilities of all people to be the best versions of themselves, and to dismantle the systems that plague our communities. We will always be accomplices to those impacted by the prison industrial complex, the atrocities it enacts, and we will not rest until it is completely dismantled. Because we not only imagine a world without prisons, we demand it. Now, we go onward, into a hopeful and powerful future.
BLACK & PINK, INC