Reverend Al Sharpton Headlines a ‘Day of Action’ on ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ –
Holman United Methodist Church, West Adams, Sun. Feb. 23rd
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Reverend Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Leader and remarks by
Hon. Eric Garcetti, Mayor, City of Los Angeles
Leon Jenkins, President, NAACP—LA Chapter
Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation
‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ PANELISTS:
Hydeia Broadbent, HIV/AIDS activist & humanitarian, HIV-positive since birth
Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, Senior Fellow, the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC and former Pastor, First African Methodist Episcopal Church
James M. Lawson, Former Pastor, Holman United Methodist Church and longstanding American civil rights activist and university professor
Gabriel Maldonaldo, CEO/Executive Director TruEvolution & HIV Campaigner In the Meantime Men’s Group
Claudia Spears, Mother of an HIV-positive individual & activist
Samantha Granberry, Senior Director, AHF Worldwide
M.C. & PANEL DISCUSSION MODERATOR: Dominique DiPrima, KJLH Radio
In response to the fact that African American and Latino communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has embarked on a new national “AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue” public awareness campaign intended to highlight this health disparity as well as to emphasize the fact that access to HIV prevention, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS should be universal.
As part of its campaign, AHF teamed locally for a Los Angeles area ‘Day of Action’ on Sunday, February 23rd with area partners Pastor Kelvin Sauls and the Holman United Methodist Church (the location for the Day of Action), KJLH-Radio, NAACP-LA Chapter, as well as with the group, In The Meantime Men whose mission is, “…to enrich, empower, and extend the lives of intergenerational black men, respectful of sexual orientation, through social, educational, health and wellness programs and services.”
The ‘Day of Action’ took place Sunday, February 23rd from 11am until approximately 4:30pm. The events—which mark both Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—included a church service (broadcast live on KJLH Radio) at Holman from 11am to 12:30pm with a keynote address by Reverend Al Sharpton and remarks by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The church service was followed by an ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ town hall panel discussion (1pm-3pm) moderated by KJLH Radio’s Dominique DiPrima and featuring Hydeia Broadbent, an HIV/AIDS activist & humanitarian HIV-positive since birth as well as several respected local community, political, heath, religious and HIV/AIDS leaders exploring the fact that African Americans & Latinos continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. The ‘Day of Action’ culminated with concert featuring the Holman Choir on site in the sanctuary at Holman at 4pm.
“We honor our ancestors and give thanks for the sacrifices that they made to persevere through the struggle and protect our human rights, standing tall and firm so that all may experience equality in our daily walk. The Negro Spiritual provides us with the history of an iron-shaped faith that can facilitate synergy between a God of inclusivity and equality,” said Reverend Kelvin Sauls, Pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church. “The power of history is unleashed when it shapes a legacy that navigates us towards a destiny that continues to reflect the boldness and integrity of our ancestors. Leveraging the vision of our ancestors articulated through song, and in collaboration with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the NAACP-LA Chapter and the In the Meantime Men’s Group, Holman United Methodist Church is committed to playing a catalytic role in facilitating a robust and relevant strategy of progressive synergy between civil rights and accessibility, dignity and equality towards a more just and fair society.”
QUOTES FROM THE ALTAR DURING “A DAY OF ACTION” CHURCH SERVICE:
- HIV advocate Hydeia Broadbent:
- “I was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 3, and they said I wouldn’t live past the age of 5. I turn 30 this year.” [Standing ovation from full house in Holman Sanctuary]
- “Let us think that this is our issue. The “H” in HIV stands for “human,” which means it can affect any one of us. It takes us to make a difference for our brothers and sisters.”
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
- On societal discrimination against the African-American community: “We may have taken some laws off of the books, but there are still too many people in prison and not enough in universities.”
- “[Reverend Sharpton] once told me, ‘Faith is the gear we use when hope no longer turns.’ The question I have for you today is: do we have the faith to act?”
- Reverend Al Sharpton:
- “50 years past the Civil Rights Act…and we’re still somehow confused into believing that civil rights is only for some of us, not all of us.”
- On overcoming HIV stigma to attain equal access to HIV/AIDS treatment:
- “Jesus heals the sick. He did not judge the sick.”
- Referring to the 20th century Civil Rights Movement: “I’m glad they didn’t judge me before they fought for me.”
- “The reason I fight for gays and lesbians, the reason why I stand by the afflicted, is because I want to be like Jesus.”
- “As we deal with HIV/AIDS as a civil right, I see the progressives out there, but where are the rest of them? Those for whom people fought and died so they could live in the suburbs…and walk through the gates of Ivy League schools…”
- After telling the story of a young man who showed Al his resume and said ‘Civil Rights didn’t write my resume’:
- “That’s a very impressive resume, and you’re right, Civil Rights didn’t write your resume. But Civil Rights got someone to read your resume.”
RECORDING OF REVEREND SHARPTON AT “DAY OF ACTION” SERMON AVAILABLE AT: https://soundcloud.com/holmanumc/day-of-action-rev-al-sharpton
National ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ Movement
Currently African Americans account for 44% of all people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, yet only account for 12% of the population. Latinos account for 21% of all new HIV infections nationwide, yet only represent 16% of the U.S. population.
Disproportionately high numbers of HIV/AIDS cases among communities of color may be caused by several factors, including:
- Lack of access to clinics for care and HIV testing.
- High levels of stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in these communities prevent people from learning their HIV status, or from seeking care and speaking honestly with their partners if they know they are positive.
- Both society and the healthcare industry have marginalized members of these communities both on account of sexual orientation and race, blocking essential treatment, care, and education for those who need it.
“Our ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ public awareness campaign is intended to open dialogue with stakeholders in the community, the public health arena, and faith-based groups as well as public officials about health disparities and the importance of universal access to HIV prevention and care and treatment,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We are honored to have Reverend Sharpton and our esteemed partners lend their voices to this important cause and discussion.”
Over the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend in January, AHF launched its innovative national ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ billboard campaign. AHF’s billboards are intended to serve as a reminder of the fact that African American and Latino communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS compared with their respective percentages of the overall population. The campaign also hopes to send the message that access to HIV prevention and care and treatment for HIV/AIDS should be a universal human right. The billboard campaign is running now in Atlanta, Washington, DC; Columbus, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi South Florida and in Los Angeles. In most of the cities, the campaign will also be posted as transit shelter ads.
Join AHF and a multitude of faith-based communities in illuminating and fighting the persisting bias against communities of color as we collectively strive to lower the incidence of HIV/AIDS, and together we can ensure all communities have equal access to the tools we need in this fight. Visit www.aidshealth.org to learn more.