In The Meantime Men’s Group, Inc. (ITMT) and key advocates of the HIV community unveiled L.A.’s BLACK AIDS Monument (BAM) recently, on National HIV Testing Day, June 27, in the West Adams District in South Los Angeles.
This event took place on the 40th anniversary of the CDC’s first Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR) citation of a “strange new immunodeficiency disease,” which became known as AIDS. The event included a gong sound bath, poem selections, and a performance of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, String Quarte, in honor of the 33 million cumulative deaths worldwide of AIDS and served as a reminder that the fight to eradicate this disease is far from over.
The monument celebrates the thousands of African American/Black lives who have died due to HIV/AIDS; in addition to recognizing the many African American/Black HIV/AIDS community advocates who have worked tirelessly to ensure the African American community obtained their fair share of public and private sector resources to support People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in order to save lives.
BAM is represented by a “tiered” Water Fountain and a Tekhenu with a Sankofa Bird at the apex of the Tekhenu. The inscription on the monument reads, “Pouring Into Each Other,” which is significant to those who have survived the 40-year HIV/AIDS pandemic. The community has “Poured into Each Other” to establish that as a people, their voices would be heard, and to invariably work to eliminate the ever-present HIV/AIDS-related homophobia, stigma, and racism which has led to the disproportionate number of African Americans/Blacks dying of HIV/AIDS that we are still seeing today.
“This beautiful Black AIDS Monument stands tall to represent the constant uphill battle, not only to end HIV/AIDS in our lifetime but also to acknowledge those brave pioneers who accomplished myriad milestones of care and service to the community over the past four decades,” said Cynthia Davis, MPH, Domestic Vice Chair, AHF Board of Directors. “These milestones include first and foremost saving lives, impacting public policy, obtaining public and private sector funding, supporting individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS, and continuing to build public service-minded coalitions whose missions were, and still remain, to move communities beyond a ‘what is in it for me” mentality.’”
Sculptor Nijel Binns stands proudly at the unveiling.