Fifty years ago today, a gunman assassinated Martin Luther King. While the gunman may have killed the dreamer, our society has merely paid lip service to efforts to making the dream live on. We are called upon to not just remember Dr. King, not just remember the dream, but to stand up and resist the relentless efforts by the President of the United States and hatemongers to kill the dream and the promise of an American that celebrates all of us.
This week, we are also mourning the losses of Linda Brown—who became the symbol of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Supreme Court case—and South Africa’s Winnie Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and wife of the former South African president Nelson Mandela.
I met Linda Brown during a ceremony at the White House commemorating the 30th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Ed case. What struck me about her was that 30 years after the Supreme Court’s decision, she was still fighting and still waiting for the promise of the decision to manifest itself in America. Thanks to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I also had the pleasure of meeting Winnie Mandela. And while there certainly are reasons to disagree with some of her methods, there is no doubt that she never stopped fighting for a free South Africa and the liberation of Black South Africans.
When we think about Dr. King, Linda Brown and Winnie Mandela, these are all people who personified the struggle for peace, justice and equality. We are now in a time when those concepts and ideals are under relentless daily attack. We have to find ways in our resistance to channel their spirits and their commitments.
This week we’re taking a deep dive into the work going on across the country in our Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN) chapters, highlighting the works of people who are committed to peace and justice and equality and ending the AIDS epidemic. We begin by highlighting BTAN Chicago’s former advocacy chair, Maxx Boykin, (who now works for the Black AIDS Institute and is based in Atlanta), as he discusses HIV criminalization. The chair of BTAN Baton Rouge, Kerry Auzenne, shares how he overcame a dark time in his life following his positive diagnosis, finding courage in community and the fire to speak out for both people living with HIV and AIDS and gender nonconforming people.
Chicago’s new BTAN chair, Anthony Galloway, talks about his work building the civic engagement of LGBTQ communities and their allies there—including a health conference last November for the bisexual community—as well as his desire to increase that chapter’s involvement in the city’s AIDS community. During that same timeframe, BTAN Mississippi hosted a three-day training both to introduce that chapter to the community and to provide information on the latest advances in HIV prevention, treatment, care and advocacy. Finally, Christina Adeleke of BTAN Charlotte has written an opinion piece about the importance of the Black vote in the 2018 elections.
Yours in the struggle,