Friday, June 25, 2010

The Black Coalition on AIDS Soirée at Rasselas: A Fulfilling and Enjoyable Benefit Party

Michael Huff, James Loyce, Dian Hanson, Sophie Maxwell, Herman Storey, and Perry Lang

The Black Coalition on AIDS topped themselves on June 23 with their Soulful Summer Soirée, an informative, fulfilling event in a beautiful setting. They chose Rasselas Jazz Club & Restaurant in the center of the revived jazz center of San Francisco’s Fillmore District, a traditionally welcoming African American area. The Ricardo Scales Quartet provided soft jazz and popular hits throughout the evening, creating a pleasant mood to accompany the taste treats and cocktails.

The Ricardo Scales Quartet

Executive Director James Loyce welcomed the guests, and Board VP Dian Harrison MC’ed the event, which was a benefit for The Coalition and an opportunity to socialize and compare experiences in the fight
against HIV/AIDS.

Black Coalition on AIDS Executive Director James Loyce

Each of the honorees has been a strong advocate for wellness and health in the African American community.

Michael Huff, Director of the African American Health Disparities Project, has been brilliant in pointing out how Black people have been short-changed and then made sure funding was provided.

Honoree Sophie Maxwell, a City Supervisor, also has sought to close the gap in health funding, and she has worked with the Black Coalition on AIDS to do so.

Volunteer of the Year honoree Herman Storey has struggled to ensure that people with HIV and AIDS receive support and he has done so since The Coalition was founded over 24 years ago with Bart Casimir, who attended the event, and city supervisor aide Brandy Moore. Moore is the much-missed, legendary AIDS activist who realized that the government, non-profits, democratic clubs, churches, and citizens of San Francisco were not concerned with mounting deaths from the new disease among Black gay men. He energized his boss, Supervisor Doris Ward, and then-California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, to create financing for information and treatment for the African American community. This journalist knew Moore well, and there is general agreement that few activists could be as persuasive and accomplished as he was.

The harrowing 2010 statistics for African Americans and HIV/AIDS in San Francisco was eloquently spoken about by Perry Lang, The Coalition’s Director of Wellness and Public Advocacy, and the infection rates are way out of proportion to the population. It was clear to the guests that a lot more has to be done to close the health care money gap, make more information available and especially to women, and to reach out to institutions that are resisting change — a situation that endangers their members.

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