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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson

Fulfilling the Dream of Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

January 11, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Every year at this time we assess what progress we've made in manifesting Dr. Martin Luther King's dream. The way the calendar falls this year, we must also mark the occurrence of two other events of significance: the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake and the first protest of Occupy the Dream, the collaboration between Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and a group of Black ministers leading Black people to become involved in the movement about economic justice that OWS has inspired.

In the HIV world these days, we actually face the promise of a new dream -- the dream of ending the AIDS epidemic, which biomedical breakthroughs have made enough of a possibility that people are now speaking publically about it. The fact that this dream is increasingly becoming a reality continues to filter in. Last week, the New York Times reported that the Canadian province of British Columbia has dramatically lowered new HIV cases and AIDS deaths by implementing treatment as prevention, aggressively.

So how does the dream to end the AIDS epidemic fit into Dr. King's dream? And where does HIV and AIDS fit into any contemporary conversations about the dreams, hopes, desires of the Black community and of society? I would argue that whether we're talking about fulfilling Dr. King's dream, recovering from the Haitian earthquake, creating the dream of an AIDS-free generation, or embarking upon Occupy the Dream, the first step is to show up.

So that's my call today: for Black Americans to show up. Now is the time for each of us -- no matter who or where we are -- to be present, to get involved, to get engaged in the process of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The process of fulfilling MLK's dream starts in our homes. Black homes need to be centers of conversation and activism. But not just our homes, also our churches, neighborhoods and civil rights organizations must engage conversations about ending the epidemic, as a way of being present and accounted for.

Dr. King's dream was fundamentally a dream of justice. Whether or not we're talking about civil rights justice, economic justice or health justice, they are all necessary to move us toward "the beloved community," that Dr. King so eloquently described.

This year I'm holding myself accountable for showing up, and I am asking you to do the same. At the end of every day, I'm going to ask myself and then write down the answer to these questions: How did I show up today? What did I do today to move us forward toward the manifestation of the dream Dr. King articulated some 40 years ago? What did I do today to attempt to manifest greater economic justice in our society? What did I do today to bring about the end of the AIDS epidemic?

Call it an old cliché if you will, but as Eleanor Roosevelt so powerfully said: "Never underestimate the power of a small group of dedicated people to change the world. It's the only thing that ever has."

Yours in the struggle,

More From This Resource Center

Magic Johnson Wants You to Know: He Isn't Cured of HIV

Living With HIV? African Americans Share Their Advice

This article was provided by The Black AIDS Institute. It is a part of the publication Black AIDS Weekly. Visit Black AIDS Institute's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

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