Following Rosa Parks Lead in the Fight Against AIDS

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Following Rosa Parks Lead in the Fight Against AIDS

Fifty years ago, an ordinary Black woman boarded an ordinary city bus in a small, ordinary southern town and an extraordinary thing happened. By holding fast to her seat, Rosa Parks gave voice to the frustration and pain — and to the dreams, hopes and promise — of a people. In so doing, she ignited a movement that changed the world.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ declaration that enough is enough, we also note that today, on the 18th commemoration of World AIDS Day, Black women still face a world in need of change.

Black women have always born the brunt of the female AIDS epidemic in America. But as journalist Hilary Beard explores in the Institute’s latest report on the Black AIDS epidemic — Getting Real: Black Women Taking Charge in the Fight Against AIDS — data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it more evident than ever that AIDS primarily a Black epidemic among women in America.

According to the CDC, Black women represent 68% of the new HIV diagnosis among women in the United States. African American women are 18 times more likely to contract HIV than white women, and AIDS remains among the leading causes of death for Black women. It is the leading cause of death for Black women aged 25-34.

Yet nearly 25 years into the epidemic, there has yet to be a mass mobilization of Black women to respond.

Fifty years ago today, a Black woman and the community she lived in were brave enough to stand up and refuse to participate in their own oppression, to declare, Not today, this stops now. For Black women in America today, the bus is AIDS. We are not just being asked to give up our seats, we’re being told to give up our lives. The Black AIDS Institute and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women are calling on all Black women in America to, like Rosa Parks, refuse to consent. Not today, this stops now.

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