Ledisi, is a R&B and jazz recording artist, songwriter and actress. A twelve-time Grammy Award nominee, Ledisi has released eight studio albums between 2000 and 2017. In 2000, Ledisi released her first album, titled Soulsinger: The Revival. In 2002, Ledisi released her second album, Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue. The album won an award for “Outstanding Jazz Album” at the California Music Awards. In 2007, Ledisi signed a record deal with Verve Forecast and released her third album, titled Lost & Found, which sold almost 217,000 copies and earned her two Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist.

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Maldonado, MBA is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TruEvolution serving the LGBTQ community in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Originally from Compton, California, he has been a community organizer for nearly fifteen years having first began working in the field as a community organizer with the Los Angeles Police Departments Teen Community Police Advisory Board addressing the gang violence resulting from racial tensions, poverty, and police distrust in the community.

 

 

 

 

Dr. David J. Malebranche, M.D., M.P.H. is is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician with experience in men’s health, student health, racial inequities in medicine, LGBT health, and the prevention and treatment of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). He is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Medical Director of Student & Employee Health at Morehouse School of Medicine.

 

 

 

 

Billy Porter is a stage performer, pop singer, film and television actor and vocal coach. Porter won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots at the 67th Tony Awards. For the role, Porter also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical and Outer Critics CircleAward for Outstanding Actor in a Musical.

 

 

 

 

 

Gabourey Sidibe is an actress who made her acting debut in the 2009 film Precious, a role that earned her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead in addition to nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actress. Her other film roles include Tower Heist (2011), White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), and Grimsby (2016). Since 2015, she stars in the Fox musical drama series Empire as Becky Williams.

 

 

 

Corporate hero

Essence is a monthly magazine for African-American women between the ages of 18 and 49. First published in 1970, it is the only magazine that focuses on reaching an audience of black women, revolves around the black woman experience, and has remained for a long period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL TRIBUTES TO…

Phill Wilson is retiring at the end of December as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Black AIDS Institute, the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. Since its founding in 1999, the Institute’s mission has been to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides ad­vocacy from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.

 

 

The late Kenneth Reynolds longtime publicist collaborated with a who’s who in music, including Whitney Houston, Labelle, Gladys Knight, Herbie Hancock, The Jacksons, Taj Mahal and Kool & the Gang. Reynolds, a native of Chicago, began working in the entertainment industry in his late teens as a page for the Merv Griffin Show in New York City. A later stint as global road manager for female trio Labelle (Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx) opened the door to publicity and marketing posts with the Arista, PolyGram and CBS labels. After relocating to Los Angeles, he launched his own PR/marketing firm.

 

 

Cookie Johnson

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Cookie Johnson Her story is one shared by countless Black women: her man tested positive for HIV/AIDS. But unlike most women, her man is world-famous with legions of loyal fans who all know: Magic Johnson has HIV. Cookie Johnson was in their living room when her husband walked in and broke the news. At …

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Dr. M. Keith Rawlins

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Dr. M. Keith Rawlins “When my children or grandchildren ask, ‘What did you do when people were dying of AIDS?’ I want to be able to say I did my best.” For Dr. M. Keith Rawlins, the call to action in the HIV/AIDS pandemic was both professional and personal. His daughter was born in …

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Dionne Warwick

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Dionne Warwick Over an illustrious four-decade career, Dionne Warwick has established herself as an international musical legend. As a performer, she has charmed audiences on every continent. As an activist, she has been a true pioneer in the struggle, and one of the first artists to lead the music industry in the fight against …

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Zackie Achmat

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Zackie Achmat Global Hero Abdurrazack Achmat has witnessed firsthand two of the most epic struggles of modern times, both of them in his native South Africa: the battle against apartheid in the latter part of the 20th century and the war against AIDS in the first part of the 21st century. Zackie, as he …

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Jurnee Smollett

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Jurnee Smollett The power of one young girl’s dream. Hydeia Broadbent was an AIDS baby, having contracted the virus from her biological mother. By her fourth birthday, she wasn’t expected to live beyond another year. By her eighth birthday, she was sharing her story at speaking engagements such as the 1996 Republican National Convention, …

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Gloria Reuben

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Gloria Reuben “People who are HIV-positive are getting their lives back.” This honoree is certainly not missing. She played someone in the struggle in the most famous ER on television. More recently, she played a woman living with AIDS in need of Life Support, the story of fellow honoree Andrea Williams (played by Queen …

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Dr. Ron Simmons

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Dr. Ron Simmons A woman finds blood in her husband’s underwear but can’t find it within herself to bring it up to her husband. To Dr. Ron Simmons, this is just plain wrong, not to mention symptomatic of a community that has gone in the wrong direction for far too long. But Simmons sees …

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Rev. Rae C. Lewis-Thornton

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Rev. Rae C. Lewis-Thornton The Faithful Many people who come across Rae Lewis-Thornton might describe her as, educated, attractive, assertive and ambitious. Not the kind of person with HIV running through her veins. But in 1986, at the tender age of 23, Rae organized a blood drive as a way of educating people to …

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Beny Primm

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Beny Primm By the time the AIDS epidemic exploded into American life, Dr. Beny Primm had already spent decades combating the health problems that plague urban communities. He’d been working with drug abusers at New York City’s Harlem Hospital since the early 1960s, watching as addiction corroded his patients’ bodies and lives. “We had …

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A. Cornelius Baker

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} A. Cornelius Baker Imagine discovering something different about your body—a sore throat, a small lump, even something as simple as ashy skin—and believing it could be a sign of imminent death. That was the reality of those infected with AIDS in the early days of the epidemic. It was also the world in which …

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Kimberly Smith

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Kimberly Smith In an uncertain world, dark forces lurk in the shadows, ready to prey on unsuspecting people struggling with AIDS. Sometimes those dark forces lie in wait in places never imagined by an ordinary person. That’s why the world needs people like Dr. Kimberly Smith. “In the late 80s,” says the native of …

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Rev. Dr. Cecil L. Chip Murray

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Rev. Dr. Cecil Chip Murray What does the pastor of the oldest Black congregation in Los Angeles have to say to those African-Americans who still don’t believe that AIDS is a major threat to the community? “Denial is a river in Egypt. It could happen to any of us.” Under the leadership of Rev. …

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Sandra McDonald

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Sandra McDonald Like all too many Black AIDS activists, Sandra Singleton McDonald started off with almost no resources beyond the passion born from watching loved ones fall ill. Early in the epidemic, the Atlanta, Georgia native was moved by the carnage unfolding from this new virus, and began researching how she could help. She …

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Carl Bean

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Carl Bean Archbishop Rev. Carl Bean doesn’t mince his words, and about the following point, he is absolutely clear. “Love,” he explains, “saved my life.” Growing up in 1950s Baltimore, Maryland, Rev. Bean saw no reason to conceal the fact that he was gay. That decision sent him down a tough road, and at …

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Charles E. Blake

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Charles E. Blake Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. is a man of character, integrity and wisdom. And determination. Given his commitment to the struggle, it’s easy to image him as Charles Atlas, trying to lift up Africa on his shoulders. Blake is senior pastor of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in …

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Sandra Evers-Manly

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My Image

{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Sandra Evers-Manly “I came from the Civil Rights Evers family in Mississippi. We were raised by the letter L. Love. Lift. Lead. Learn. Laugh. Listen with your heart,” says Sandra Evers-Manly. Loss is another word familiar to her. She’s a cousin of slain Civil Rights activist Medgar Evans and has had to say goodbye …

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Danny Glover

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Danny Glover What does the pastor of the oldest Black congregation in Los Angeles have to say to those African-Americans who still don’t believe that AIDS is a major threat to the community? “Denial is a river in Egypt. It could happen to any of us.” Under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Cecil L. …

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Sheryl Lee Ralph

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Sheryl Lee Ralph It seems fitting, somehow, that Sheryl Lee Ralph’s vision for joining the fight against HIV/AIDS came to her in a dream. Her hit musical Dreamgirls opened in 1981, the same year that doctors identified the first cases of disease. And it was during her run as a “dreamgirl” when one of …

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Debra Fraser-Howze

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Debra Fraser-Howze In the mid-1980s, then-U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop warned the country, and Black leaders in particular, about the alarmingly high rates of HIV infections among African Americans. At the time, HIV/AIDS was thought to be a malady that only afflicted gay white men. As Black leaders across the country attempted …

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Patricia Broadbent

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Patricia Broadbent “Don’t look at what you can die from. Look at how you can live.” Patricia Broadbent has spent a lifetime instilling this kind of positive attitude in herself and her family. Good thing. She’s living with cancer and three of her children are living with AIDS. She’s experienced a teacher spraying her …

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Hydeia Broadbent

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Hydeia Broadbent Hydeia Broadbent, as tiny as a finger snap, could barely see over the podium. But the little girl had a big message. “How many of you know someone with AIDS?” she asked the audience at one of her early speeches.  “Guess what, you do know someone with AIDS. And you can be …

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David Satcher

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} David Satcher Anybody else would have headed for the door. The most contentious presidential election in modern times had just turned the White House over to a new group of social conservatives, and the Surgeon General’s position has always been a hotspot in America’s culture wars. For Dr. David Satcher, who had been appointed …

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Wilbert C. Jordan

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Wilbert C. Jordon Leaving his office one evening, Dr. Wilbert C. Jordan was approached by a drug user who needed money. A conversation that began about a quarter evolved into a discussion about HIV and AIDS. Across the street was a mobile health unit. The addict told Dr. Jordan that the health unit’s workers …

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Eric Goosby

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Eric Goosby In 1981, as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Eric Goosby watched with alarm as the AIDS epidemic was born. Two years later, while working as Medical Director at the Southeast Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital, he began his …

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Essence

Posted in: HITS Bios

Essence Essence, the preeminent magazine for African American women, has made a strong commitment to dealing with HIV/AIDS, a disease disproportionately affecting its very reader-base. AIDS is the #1 killer of Black women in the United States, aged 24-45. Among females, 72% of all new HIV cases are Black women. In response to the pandemic, …

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Jesse L. Jackson

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Jesse L. Jackson As founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. developed the PUSH for Life HIV/AIDS program in March of 2000. The purpose of the program is to develop a political platform to assist the HIV/AIDS community in its efforts to garner broader support both nationally and …

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Diane Watson

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{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Diane Watson “Let us shift our priorities. Let us train an army of doctors to fight the global HIV/AIDS crisis. Let us declare war on this dreaded disease.” Think of Diane Watson as a one-woman army, fighting valiantly against the epidemic on the political front, first in California State Senate and now in the …

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Willie Brown

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My Image

{artsexylightbox}{/artsexylightbox} Willie Brown The world was just two years into the mysterious new disease still thought of as a “gay plague” when Willie Brown got an urgent request for help from a San Francisco activist. If doctors were going to find out what was causing this deadly illness, the activist pleaded, they needed money, real …

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