MEET TONY SNELL
A longtime human rights activist and community organizer, Tony cones to Milwaukee from South Carolina, where he served as president of South Carolina Pride for several years and is founding member of the Harriet Hancock Center Foundation. In Milwaukee, Tony is a member of the City’s Equal Rights Commission (ERC), Milwaukee Pride board of directors , and has served as its interim executive director.
Over the years, Tony served as an LGBTQ Community spokesperson while organizing initiatives and demonstrations, including an infamous trip to Bob Jones University; Pride events in Columbia, Greenville, and Myrtle Beach; the historic inclusion of S.C. Pride in the Columbia St. Patrick’s Day Parade; and state Senate passage of a hate crime bill that included sexual orientation. In 1998, Tony was interviewed by the New York Times in a groundbreaking, front-page story about LGBT political organizing in the South. Demanding transgender inclusion, he was instrumental in the crafting and passage of the City of Columbia Human Rights Ordinance – first in the state and groundbreaking in the South. Tony has also served as a founding member of both the Equality Federation (a national group of state LGBT organizations) and the F.B.I. Community Engagement Council.
Most recently, as a member of the ERC, Tony initiated a successful effort with staff to advance in the city’s HRC Municipal Index score from a 72 to a 90; spearheaded the city’s i naugural International Human Rights Day celebration and awards ceremony; joined colleagues to craft the new ERC governing ordinance to extend safeguards that protect gender identity, gender expression, HIV status, source of income, veterans, and more, As the Center’s interim executive director, he and his staff led a community coalition ensuring the passage of Milwaukee’s ordinance banning conversion therapy.
Milwaukee Magazine said, “Tony is passionate about human rights” and his Twitter account is one of ten “you’re gonna want to follow” (@TonyEquality). A newly released book Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement features Tony as a contributor and chronicles his coming out and advocacy.
Tony, a Spanish-American, is happily married to Dr. Wujie Zhang and proud to call Milwaukee their home.