November 30, 2017
By Dr. Djibril Diallo
Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, UNAIDS
World AIDS Day (December 1) is fast approaching and a recently launched initiative aimed at ending HIV/AIDS, as a public health crisis in Africa, could be a catalyst to trigger discussions about HIV in the African American and African diaspora communities in the United States.
In recent months, several African heads of state have made public their commitment to support the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. In September, six African heads of state joined UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé at the “HIV Fast Track” side event organized during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly that was held in New York City and presided over by President Yoweri of Uganda. Earlier in July, during the African Union (AU) Summit, AU Chair, President Alpha Conde of Guinea convened the “AIDS Watch Africa Heads of State and Government Meeting” where the leaders endorsed the “Catch-Up Plan for West and Central Africa” and declared their commitment to providing the needed policy and resource changes to help achieve the target goals.
The Catch-Up Plan is an 18-month initiative that has been developed to accelerate the AIDS response and prevent a resurgence of the HIV epidemic in the 25-country region. Its focus is on testing, knowing one’s HIV status, treatment, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission; the initiative was crafted to complement existing health plans that the countries have been using to address HIV and AIDS.
Today, thanks to advancements in medicine and increased access to antiretroviral medications for many people in Africa and around the world, being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. In so many cases, with treatment the disease can be managed like a chronic illness and kept under long-term control with medication.
However, at a time when the global response to HIV is accelerating, millions of people in Western and Central Africa are being left behind. There is a considerable gap when it comes to people knowing their HIV status, and for those who test positive to receive the necessary treatment.
The same can be said for the populations most vulnerable to the disease in the United States, as well.
Many of the issues that continue to fuel the HIV/AIDS crisis on the continent are also the root cause for the high infection rates found in African American and Hispanic populations in the U.S. including some of the same barriers keep people from seeking to know their HIV status, having access to treatment and properly following up on treatment namely poverty, fear, stigma and discrimination.
On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the HIV/AIDS mirror reflects the same faces: the young, the poor, women, high-risk populations, as well as children. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., reported that “African Americans continue to experience the greatest burden of HIV compared to other races and ethnicities.” In 2015, data released earlier this year, the CDC noted that African Americans who represent around 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 40 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 45 percent “of all persons with newly diagnosed infection.” Latinos, who represent around 17 percent of the U.S. population, account for nearly 21 percent of people living with HIV and an estimated 24 percent of all persons with newly diagnosed infection.
The Catch-Up Plan for West and Central Africa initiative can serve as the entry point for talking about HIV/AIDs and related health issues in Africa globally and in particular, as it concerns African American and African Diaspora communities in the US.
Dr. Djibril Diallo is the UNAIDS Director of the Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa.
November 23, 2017
LAWT News Service
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) issued the following statement regarding the resignation of 37-year Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
“The news of President Mugabe’s resignation after a week of political uncertainty that included a military takeover and possible impeachment has led the people of Zimbabwe to rejoice. Now that President Mugabe has stepped down, I hope to see the country rapidly return to civilian rule in accordance with Zimbabwe’s constitution. Ultimately, Robert Mugabe’s downfall and the response of the people of Zimbabwe highlights that a country cannot be kept hostage to unwanted leadership. Eventually, the will of the people prevails.”
November 16, 2017
By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
President and CEO, NNPA
I once asked the first African American billionaire, Reginald F. Lewis, what single word best defined the most determinative factor that led to his monumental financial success? Mr. Lewis answered, “Preparation.” To accept or to meet the challenges of life, one must first be prepared.
Attaining a quality education is one of the best methods for self-development and self-preparation. The long history of African American progress is inextricably linked to our access and attainment of a good education.
From Frederick Douglas to W.E.B. Du Bois to Booker T. Washington, the goal of education for Black people was paramount to achieving freedom, justice and equality in America and throughout the world. Today, in 2017, that goal is still a top priority for 47 million African Americans across the nation.
It is important to recall lessons from our history to continue the struggle against the forces of racism, oppression and economic inequality. Shortly after the slave insurrection led by Nat Turner in southern Virginia in 1831, the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi all passed laws making it a felony to teach a Black person how to read and write.
Educating and preparing Africans in America to meet life’s challenges was once against the law. It was illegal to educate our people in those states. It was against the law in the South for Black people to be educated before the Civil War in America. My great, great, great grandfather, the Reverend John Chavis, defied those terrible laws in 1838 and was beaten to death, as a result.
This subject is personal, but not limited just to my family’s legacy. While those laws no longer exist, the issues of education for millions of African Americans are still essential and life-advancing. Thus, it is important to assert and to rearticulate the critical importance of supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
I proudly serve on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Equality Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) that represents all of the HBCUs and PBIs (Predominantly Black Institutions. There is no question that these educational institutions continue, with academic excellence, to provide the majority of Black college graduates in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM).
At a recent national conference of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in Washington, D.C., Koch Industries reaffirmed its contribution of more than $26 million to the TMCF. The support of HBCUs cuts across the partisan political divide in America. The fact is Koch Industries “accepted the challenge” and stepped up to the plate and gave an unprecedented amount of financial support to both the United Negro College Fund ($25 million) and to the TMCF.
Accepting the challenge of providing more funding for the higher education of Black Americans should not be reduced to partisan politics. This is about improving the quality of life for Black America and for all communities who yearn for freedom and equality.
As a graduate of Howard University, I know that HBCUs deserve the support of corporate America. Let’s hope that other corporate leaders will also accept the challenge of financially supporting HBCUs.
November 02, 2017
By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
President and CEO, NNPA
There is no debate about the continuing historic importance and strategic mission and purpose of the nation’s 120-plus Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). During the 2017 homecoming festivities that are now occurring on HBCU campuses across the nation, I believe it is also important to salute and recognize the companies that financially contribute to the success of HBCUs.
The Ford Motor Company has had a long track record of contributing to HBCUs that spans more than 30 years. Thus, it was noteworthy when Ford recently launched its “Drive2Greatness” initiative to support science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) programs at HBCUs.
We concur, that STEAM careers are vital and in high demand in today’s global economy. The clear majority of African American college students, who complete their course of studies in STEAM fields graduate from HBCUs. Thanks to the Ford Motor Company and the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the “Drive2Greatness” initiative is off to a great start.
According to “Raj” Register at Ford’s multicultural communications, “For more than three decades, Ford has been committed to implementing and supporting initiatives that encourage and inspire young people to pursue and succeed in STEAM careers…with the launch of our inaugural ‘Drive2Greatness’ program, we’re excited to extend that commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their STEAM programs.”
The competition among HBCUs to win prizes in the Drive2Greatness program involves earning points through online voting at the Facebook page of the Tom Joyner Morning Show that includes using a Ford-dedicated hashtag via social media platforms. I just voted for my HBCU, Howard University, using the hashtag #FordHowardU. Howard University has a diverse array of many key STEAM academic disciplines. Make sure that you vote for your HBCU today.
Last year, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) awarded Tom Joyner our 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding national broadcast leadership and his dedication to our nation’s HBCUs. Ford selected the right national radio partner and outstanding leader in Tom Joyner. Our African American college students do need more support, encouragement and engagement, particularly with respect to STEAM careers.
The Ford Motor Company and the Tom Joyner Morning Show deserve our salute and tribute, because, together they are helping to make a positive difference in our communities and with our HBCUs. Driving toward greatness necessitates adequate preparation and attaining a quality education. Drive2Greatness is timely given the increasing demand for STEAM college graduates in the current expanding economy.
Dr. Lezli Baskerville is the President and CEO of the National Association for Equality Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the umbrella organization of all of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions. Dr. Baskerville stated, “The Drive2Greatness program by the Ford Motor Company and the Tom Joyner Morning Show is an effective model on how to encourage STEAM careers. NAFEO is proud of what our HBCUs are accomplishing in these transformative fields of study.”
Our most precious resource in our communities is our youth, who are gifted and talented and also need more opportunities like the Ford Motor Company’s initiative on STEAM.