Meet Noël Gordon Jr: Antiracist Activist

Posted by Tri Vo on

Noël Gordon Jr isn't just the co-founder of Reparations Media & Apparel. He's a Black Lives Matter activist and political entrepreneur with nearly 10 years of experience fighting for racial equity and economic justice in the United States. 

(photo credit: Noël Gordon Jr)

Noël got his start in progressive politics working for the nation’s largest civil rights organization focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans. Since then, Noël has worked on campaigns to stop the HIV and AIDS epidemic, end the racist War on Drugs, and defund the Minneapolis Police Department. 

(photo credit: Noël Gordon Jr)

We recently caught up with Noël to learn more about his life and his plans for the future, which includes revitalizing the Black labor movement in his home state of Nevada. Be sure to follow all of his activist adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

When did you become an activist? 
Noël: I’ve been organizing black, indigenous and working-class people of color ever since the early days of my freshman year in college. I got started in the fall of 2010, after learning about the tragic death of Tyler Clementi. Tyler was an 18-year-old college student who committed suicide after his roommate videotaped him being intimate with another man. I organized a campus-wide event to raise awareness of the issues facing LGBTQ youth and I later co-founded the Coalition for Queer and Trans People of Color.

Where are your ancestors from?
Noël: My mother was born in Rainbow City, Panama and my father was born in Kingston, Jamaica. They met and fell in love in Brooklyn, New York, where I was born a rabble rouser for racial justice! I’m very proud of my African, Caribbean, and Latino roots. They’ve helped me become the openly gay Black man I am today (as cliché as that sounds).

What’s the story behind your name?
I have my father’s name, which explains why so many people know me as Noël Gordon Jr. I’m not sure if there’s a story behind my middle name (Augustus), but I like what it means because my integrity is very important to me.

(photo credit: Noël Gordon Jr

Who’s your activist crush or role model?
Noël: I’d pick Bayard Rustin or A. Phillip Randolph as role models for my activism. Both men accomplished a great deal in their lifetimes without compromising their values or political beliefs. Bayard was a particularly handsome man, but Michael B. Jordan will forever be my activist crush! Woof.

Which racial stereotype annoys you the most?
Noël: That Black people are lazy, ignorant or stupid. Black people invested 

What issue in the world is most important to you right now?
Noël: No issue is more important to me right now than the issue of reparations. Debt strips Black working-class families of our ability to lead happy, healthy lives. Without reparations for slavery, segregation, and state-sanctioned police violence, it will take at least 260 years for my family to accumulate the same level of wealth as those born white. The status quo is neither fair nor just, and I know a better world is possible.

(photo credit: Noël Gordon Jr)

What’s the best comedy movie or television show you’ve ever seen?
Noël: Movie: Mean Girls; Television Show: Rick and Morty

Where would you like to go on your next vacation? 
I would love to visit Panama. I haven’t been there since I was a little kid and it would be nice to learn more about my mother’s side of the family.

What’s the proudest moment of your life so far?
Noël: I’m sure there are others, but I’m particularly proud to have been the Nevada State Champion in Public Forum Debate. I gained a lot of my confidence from my time on the debate team, and I continue to use those skills in almost every aspect of my life. I’m grateful to the National Speech & Debate Association for teaching me how to defend my point of view, even when they're unpopular.

What does a world without racism look like to you?
Noël: To me, a world without racism would look just like Wakanda: peaceful and prosperous with Black people everywhere! There’d be no need for war, and certainly no need for the police. 

Finish this sentence: “I’m fired up and ready to…” 
I'm fired up and ready to take over the world, with my friends and my family close by.


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