Former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, now president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the NBLCA Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, at the fabulous Gotham Hall at 36th Street and Broadway in New York City.
The gala featured a special Founders Circle Choose Life Award presentation to people who helped to start the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS: the Hon. David N. Dinkins, the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, the Hon. Hazel Dukes, Dr. Marjorie Hill, Ron Johnson, Dr. Marcella Maxwell, Harriet Michel and the NBLCA founder, Debra Fraser-Howze. The Choose Life Award was presented to individuals who have been involved in the fight against AIDS for almost as long as the NBLCA: Dr. Helene Gayle, an outstanding advocate for HIV/AIDS, accepted by her sister, Karalenne Gayle, and Katherine Jackson, accepted by her granddaughter, Yashi Jackson Brown.
“Thanks to the generous support of our Platinum sponsor Gilead, our gala was a success,” said Fields. “We also received support from Artimus Construction, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Municipal Credit Union, OraSure Technologies, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, BET and GMHC.”
The NBLCA has been advocating on behalf of African-American persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The evening celebrated the history of the NBLCA and looked toward the future. Cheryl Wills, award-winning NY1 news anchor, host of “In Focus with Cheryl Wills,” was the host for the evening. The evening began with an exciting version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” performed by 28 students from Harlem School of the Arts, and also during the evening the guests enjoyed the jamming sounds of the Phil Young Experience. The evening ended with eight dancers performing to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”
Fields asked the guests and the community to look in the mirror and change their ways to help decrease the risk of new diagnoses and support the efforts to end the epidemic.
Both songs were sung by HSA dance student, Jordan Hall, and accompanied by Sean Powell. The HSA Dance Ensemble performed under the direction of Aubrey Lynch II, the organization’s dance director.
“Tonight we came to honor and recognize persons who stepped up and have led in the fight against public health inequities and the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” commented Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, Ala., chairman of the NBLCA board of directors. “NBLCA’s mission is to educate, mobilize and empower Black leaders to meet the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in their local communities.”
“NBLCA continues to be at the forefront of tackling issues as a thought leader and innovator in ensuing that some of the systemic issues in the fight against AIDS are addressed,” said Fields. “Our programs and activities in HIV prevention, and related disparities, maintain effective partnerships with faith-based, community-based organizations, medical and academic institutions. Our advocacy work serves to refocus public attention on the disproportionate impact in Black communities.”
For additional information about the NBLCA, please call 212-614-0023 ext. 109, or visit www.nblca.org.