- CHARITY BENEFIT
Founded in 1987, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) conducts policy, research and advocacy on HIV/AIDS and other health disparities to ensure effective participation of its leadership in all policy and resource allocation decisions impacting communities of African descent nationwide. The mission of NBLCA is to educate, organize, and empower Black leaders, including clergy, elected officials, medical practitioners, business professionals, social policy experts, and the media, to meet the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in their local communities.
Additionally, the organization has established affiliates in cities throughout the United States where African-American communities are hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including New York City, Nassau County (LI, NY), Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa, and Washington, D.C. Moreover, the work of the NBLCA is financially supported by contributions and grants from a range of sources – philanthropic foundations, corporations, government, individual donors, and proceeds from special fund-raising events such as the Choose Life Awards Benefit Reception.
Earlier in the summer, NBLCA celebrated its 25th Anniversary of
Choose Life Awards at 583 Park Avenue at 63rd Street. This
year, the organization inducted Grammy Award winner and
AIDS activist Dionne Warwick; the late Jonathan Larson-
Compose and Author of the Tony Award-winning Broadway
musical Rent, Celebrity Photographer Duane Cramer; and Carla
A. Harris, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, into its Hall Hope and Remembrance. NFL Star Tiki Barber served as a Co-Chair. Merck Corporation generously served as the event underwriter. Television host and personality Wendy Williams of “The Wendy Williams Show” served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.
According to Wendy Williams, “we live in a celebrity driven culture where people are obsessed with celebrity. I am fortunate that I can use my celebrity to bring awareness not only to the charity but to the issue at large.”
The issue for the black community is that, although African Americans represented only 14 percent of the population in 2009, they account for 44 percent of all new HIV infections. The Center for Disease Control also reports that at some point in their lives, an estimated 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women will be diagnosed with the HIV infection.
This is especially disconcerting for Wendy Williams who spoke of her experiences talking with youth about sexual relations and HIV/AIDS. “I am really concerned for today’s youth (straight and gay). Many young people are very casual about sex. They need more education about the disease and how to contract it. Hopefully, we can all do our part and help them and others.” she said.
Interesting to note that the three major New York City’s local televisions stations (WABC &, WCBS2 /WLNY55 and WNBC) supported the awards dinner. The stations, their anchors and reporters were recognized for drawing attention to the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS and their continued support of the organization.
Although Dionne Warwick was unable to attend, I spied these other notables, C. Virginia Field, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Kevin Navayne, Dana Tyler, Sandra Roland, Brian Thompson, Kemberly Richardson.