Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The National Black HIV/AIDS March: Activists March for Awareness

Jonathan Bent and Tony Bradford from Black Brothers Esteem

More than a hundred people rallied at San Francisco City Hall and marched to the African American Art & Culture Complex in the Fillmore District for a program to commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7.

Vincent Fuqua addressing the crowd on City Hall steps

Coordinated by Vincent Fuqua, Health Educator with the HIV Prevention Section of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), there was a series of inspirational speeches and meeting-and-greeting of AIDS activists.

Susan Phillip, the SFDPH Medical Director of the STD Prevention and Control Services, was the first speaker. She was followed by Jonathan Bent, who is involved with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s (SFAF) Black Brothers Esteem (BBE). Bent said that after he became ill with AIDS he paid attention to his health and diet. He told the audience that he had learned from BBE that everyone should be tested and if infected, to be treated as soon as possible. The most important thing he said that he had learned was to love himself. BBE Program Director Tony Bradford looked on smiling, as did Michael Huff, Jonathan Batiste, Alfred McGugin, Frances Broome, and Derrick Mapp. Bent was given a floral tribute and thanked for his helpful comments.

San Francisco City Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi spoke about Black History Month and AIDS in the African American community. Marsha Herring, the SFDPH’s Contract Compliance Officer, spoke about prejudice against people with HIV/AIDS. Then a list of important African American activists who had died while battling AIDS was read, including Brandy Moore, who had helped to found the Black Coalition on AIDS while he worked for San Francisco City Supervisor Doris Ward and consulted with California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown on AIDS issues and funding.

Kyriell Noon with his sons Ziad and Junaid

Positive Resource Center Executive Director Brett Andrews and SFAF Executive Director Neil Giuliano were there and Stop AIDS Project Executive Director Kyriell Noon brought his sons Junaid and Ziad.

The rally ended after coordinator Fuqua thanked everyone for coming and supporting each other, and said that people positive and negative for HIV are not separate, but they are together in fighting AIDS. Then candles were distributed and the march set off in the fading light toward the Fillmore.

Kyriell Noon and his sons Junaid and Ziad

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