The Body Covers: The 2001 National Conference on African Americans and AIDS
February 19, 2001
The need for political activism is underscored by the fact that as a nation we find ourselves at a crossroads with a new government, president, and congress. The question was raised as to whether support for prevention programs and Ryan White funding would continue. Baker reminded the audience that within 30 days of the conference President Bush was scheduled to make a decision on how to maintain the Office of National HIV Prevention, as well as to present his FY 2002 budget. He encouraged the audience to contact the White House by letter or by telephone to convey the importance of maintaining the HIV commitment. On local levels, audience members were urged to speak with congresspersons about appropriations and service needs in communities, and to hold leaders accountable for a concerted national plan against HIV.
Finally, Baker stressed the power of the vote, and the importance of making one's voice heard through votes. He urged providers and community based organizations to conduct voter registration campaigns and encourage clients to vote in elections at all levels.
Asked about the threat to 501c status of organizations which conduct these campaigns, Baker reassured the audience that as long as no candidate or bill with partisan impact is endorsed, organizations could spend up to 10% of their funds on lobbying activities. In response to a challenge from a member of the audience, he encouraged community advisory boards and Community-based organizations to strive to stay in touch with the communities they serve, and to interact with and listen to members of these communities.
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