NBJC Calls For Hate Crime Investigation in FAMU Hazing Death

Posted by Melanie Nathan,  01/10/2012

robert-champion-story-top.pngWashington, D.C., January 10, 2012 – On November 19, 2011 Florida A&M University student Robert Champion Jr. was found unresponsive aboard a band bus after the school’s biggest game of the year. Police ruled the death a homicide from hazing; furthermore, the parents of Mr. Champion, a 26-year-old drum major in the university’s famed marching band, have recently revealed that Mr. Champion was gay. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s largest Black LGBT civil rights organization, is urging the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) and Civil Rights Division, in addition to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, to launch an immediate investigation into Mr. Champion’s death as a potential anti-gay hate crime.

The loss of Mr. Champion is an unfortunate reminder of the need for proactive measures that foster inclusive environments for all students, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, and that address the severe issue of hazing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country—Florida A&M being one of the nation’s oldest and largest HBCUs.

At NBJC we have always understood the need to create safe and nurturing spaces for our young people to thrive, which is why we launched an initiative seeking policy changes within the U.S. Department of Education’s White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to promote the development and delivery of culturally competent administrative, faculty, student and staff support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The tragic loss of Mr. Champion is a clarion call that those policies and these conversations within the Black community are needed now more than ever. We offer our deepest condolences and support to Robert Champion Jr.’s parents and family.

Anti-gay violence is not only a civil rights issue; it is a Black issue. It is a Black issue because violence against gay and transgender individuals is disproportionately affecting our Black youth. The civil rights community can no longer stand on the sidelines while our sons and daughters continue to suffer in silence. Mr. Champion is one of our own and his death will not be in vain.

That is why I am calling on the Black and LGBT communities to join NBJC in demanding a fair and thorough investigation. Be it hazing or hate crime, justice must be served.

– Sharon Lettman-Hicks
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
National Black Justice Coalition

UPDATED:  PLEASE SIGN PETITION https://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-robert-champion-jr


The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. NBJC’s mission is to eradicate racism and homophobia. Sharon Lettman-Hicks serves as the organization’s executive director.

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5 Comments on “NBJC Calls For Hate Crime Investigation in FAMU Hazing Death”

  1. Dan January 10, 2012 at 2:39 PM #

    I really hope there is evidence for this as being a hate crime. Just because he is gay does not justify the Justice Department to look into this and turn this into a felony. Is it a requirement to check if every murder of a gay person a hate crime? Let the police do their work. If there is no testimony that this is a possible hate crime, then NBJC needs to calm down and wait for the next gay man to be killed.

    • Melanie Nathan January 11, 2012 at 1:52 PM #

      Dan, What do you think investigating it as a hate crime changes the charges without evidence? All it does is add to motivation and yes hence the seriousness. Why should the DOJ not look at the death of every gay person with additional scrutiny? In fact it is their duty to do so; certainly until such time as LGBTI people are no longer the subject of hate crimes it must be an added part of investigations in circumstances that point in that direction and apparently this one does! So hey why not go to the maximum degree of the investigative realm. NOTE There IS no evidence until you investigate and look for the evidence – this will expand the purvue to do just that and who knows maybe there will be such evidence and maybe there will not be – but we will not know till they max out!

  2. Tracy January 10, 2012 at 6:08 PM #

    Hi Melanie,

    This was released a few hours ago:


    The parents are pointing to the son’s anti-hazing opposition as opposed to the hate crime angle…



    • Melanie Nathan January 11, 2012 at 1:47 PM #

      Thanks good glad mainstream at it.At last!

  3. Melanie Nathan January 11, 2012 at 6:45 AM #


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