Alphonso David's Fight for Civil Rights

David was born in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1970, but his family very soon after moved to Monrovia, Liberia. This North African country was founded by freed people of color from the United States. His father was elected the city’s mayor and his uncle, William Tolbert, was the president. In 1980, Samuel Kanyon Doe led a coup d’état, taking David’s father into prison and assassinating President Tolbert in the process. David’s family lived under house arrest and eventually moved to the United States to seek refuge.

They found asylum in Baltimore, Maryland and there he quickly learned what it meant to be different. Eventually he came to understand that not only was he was a black immigrant, but he was also gay.


His coming out experience was challenging. He speaks often of his struggles understanding himself at that age and how “It took him years to get to a point where he could look himself in the mirror and see a friend and see value.” After coming out to his father, he was disowned. At a very young age he had seen the importance of democracy and individuality which led him to his finding his purpose in life.


He attended the University of Maryland and Temple University law school. Following graduation he worked as a law clerk for a Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He then moved onto a Philadelphia based law firm where he worked on pro bono cases helping victims of domestic violence.

David went on to work on the first marriage equality case in New York. They initially won, but the ruling was overturned on appeal. He continued to use his voice to help fight for marriage equality and helped for same-sex marriage in New York to be legalized in 2011, three years before the US Supreme Court ruling.


Outside of marriage equality, helped to ban conversion therapy on minors, protect transgender people from discrimination, fight for those who are living with HIV and AIDS and so much more. In 2015, he was selected to be New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s counsel where he reviewed proposed legislation.


Currently, he is the first person of color to serve as the President of the Human Rights Campaign and he continues to use his voice, skills, and experiences to fight for equality.


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