Marissa Alexander is a mother of three who is being prosecuted by Florida State Attorney, Angela Corey, for firing a warning shot at her husband. According to CBSNews, Alexander said she fired the warning shot a few days after giving birth. Her estranged husband, Rico Gray, accused her of having an affair and questioned whether the baby was his. She says she locked herself in the bathroom until he broke through the door and shoved her to the floor. She ran into the garage, found a gun in a car and fired a “warning shot” after he said he would kill her. Alexander refused the three-year plea deal that Attorney Angela Corey offered in her first trial; instead, Alexander has chosen to go to trial regarding this matter.
The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Atlanta Alumnae Chapter hosted the, Celebration of Women: Saluting Exemplary Service Luncheon, honoring women who impact their community. This year, Sybrina Fulton, Lucia McBath and Christy Tucker Sims were the 2014 Fortitude Award recipients.
Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American male who was gunned down on February 26, 2012 by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was found not guilty. Lucia McBath is the mother of Jordan Russell Davis. On November 23, 2012, Davis was shot and killed by Michael Dunn; Dunn claimed that Davis and his friends were playing their music too loud in their car. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the murder charge. Christy Tucker Sims survived an acid attack on April 28, 2013, by her then-boyfriend, Andrew Fordham. Fordham has since been indicted by the Henry County grand jury.
On April 28, 2013, Christy Tucker Sims was called to the bathroom of her home by her then-boyfriend; once she walked inside the bathroom he was waiting with a bowl of sulfuric acid and threw it in her face. Sims laid in a coma for two months. Once she awakened, she learned that over 20% of her body had been burned. Sims revealed that the incident was not an accident, as previously told to the 911 operator by her boyfriend, and she exposed the truth about what really happened that day. Since then, Sims has created the Christy Sims Foundation, which focuses on empowering women and children who are and have been affected by domestic violence.
Dean Lewis, Gene Bottex, and No No Farrie are the owners of Fade Away Cutz barbershop located in Atlanta’s Historic West End neighborhood. These barbers have started an initiative called, Fade to Success, in which their focus is to reach and mentor young African American men in their community. Each Tuesday they travel between Adamsville Recreational Center and Thomasville Recreational Center to offer free haircuts to the young men in the neighborhood. While cutting hair they engage in discussion with the youth and talk about issues such as sex, drugs, crime, money and school.
Today, African Americans lead in HIV/AIDS rates and statistics but only make up 13.1% of the US population. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 2010 New HIV Infections report showed that African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections, despite representing only 12% of the US population at that time. In 2010, there were an estimated 10,600 new HIV infections among African American gay and bisexual men. Gay and bisexual men represent approximately 2% of the US population, but accounted for three-fourths of all estimated new HIV infections annually from 2008 to 2010.
Khafre K. Abif has been living with HIV for 25 years. After his diagnosis in 1991, he became an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and has spent his life educating people about HIV/AIDS.
Timothy Daniels has been living with HIV for more than 28 years. Daniels was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 20. Since then he has lived a healthy life without taking HIV/AIDS medications.
Abif and Daniels discuss their journey after contracting HIV, the choice to take or not take HIV/AIDS medication, understanding T-cells and Viral Load, and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Khafre Kujichagulia Abif is an author, writer, and activist. He has been living with HIV for over twenty years. Abif was first diagnosed in 1991. “It wasn’t until five years later that I shared with my mother that I was HIV positive,” says Abif. Since then he has been an activist for HIV/AIDS and has worked hard to bring awareness to the disease that has affected many individuals in the African American community.
The title of his book, Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems & Affirmations for People Living with HIV/AIDS, came from a conversation he had with his mother after he told her he was HIV positive. “She put her arms around me, she prayed for me and prayed over my life,” says Abif. “And then she went downstairs to the kitchen and pulled out a cast iron skillet and started cooking cornbread, she wanted to fatten me up I guess.” The book consists of 125 writers, famous and unknown poets and authors, some of who are HIV positive and others who are HIV negative. The book is available in different languages such as, Spanish, Cosa, Zulu and French. “It’s a book for the world, we wanted to create a quilt of words to wrap around people to combat the negative words we living with HIV often hear from family, community and just the media,” says Abif.
Currently, Abif is working on his Cycle for Freedom campaign; it is a 2,028 mile mobile campaign, in which he plans to cycle the distance of the Underground Railroad, in order to raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness. In April 2015, Abif will bicycle the Underground Railroad bicycle path from Owen Sound, Canada to Mobile, Alabama. He will stop in 14 cities where they will be having HIV testing rallies and educating individuals on the stigmas around HIV/AIDS.
The Mother House is located in Atlanta, Georgia in the historic West End neighborhood. The Mother House has been a vital part of Atlanta’s African American community. The house is composed of two parts: Sister Song and Sister Love.
Sister Song has been established since 1997 and their main focus is supporting and empowering women of color and their communities. According to Sister Song, the mission of the Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective is to amplify and strengthen the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color to ensure reproductive justice through securing human rights.
Sister Love was founded in 1989 by Dázon Dixon Diallo. Sister Love focuses on educating women of color on topics such as AIDS prevention, self-help and safer sex techniques. According to Sister Love, their mission is to eradicate the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health challenges upon women and their families through education, prevention, support and human rights advocacy in the United States and around the world.
The Executive Director of Sister Song, Monica Simpson, and the Prevention Specialist of Sister Love, Terry Barlow, discuss the organizations purpose and their duties at the Mother House.
Nia Mitchell organized the event, Black Women Rising: Celebrating Resiliency and Activism in the Face of Violence, that took place on Saturday March 15, at Sister Love and Sister Song Mother House in Atlanta. The event was in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The women celebrated the resiliency and activism of women of African descent.
Mitchell discussed the work that she does with the Atlanta Chapter of Friends of the Congo, and how they do a lot of work around the violence that is happening over on the continent and specifically rape being used as a weapon of war. “I wanted to connect those experiences with other women of African descent experiences with violence,” says Mitchell.
The event opened with a libation ceremony and a reading of the history of the Mother House. There was also a song performance by Monica Simpson, the Executive Director of Sister Love and Sister Song Mother House. Simpson performed the song Four Women by Nina Simone.
A woman from Sudan told her story, with the help of an Arabic translator, and expressed her gratitude to the United States for granting her asylum. There was also a panel that took place in which the women discussed issues that impact people of African descent and the ways that women are organizing to make their communities better.
In honor of Trayvon Martin’s death, the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta is hosting an exhibit, Remembering Trayvon: A Community Collective Exhibition Opening Event. It is an exhibit of different artists work that were inspired by the shooting and death of Trayvon Martin.
It has been two years since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. On the night of February 26, 2012, Zimmerman placed a call to 911 claiming that he saw a “suspicious person” in his neighborhood. According to CNN, Zimmerman disregarded the dispatcher’s instructions to not approach the person, and confronted Martin, shooting and killing him. Zimmerman claimed the shooting was in self-defense, and after a widely publicized trial, he was acquitted of second-degree murder charges.
African American women rank number one in education rates for degrees conferred at degree-granting institutions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 1999-2000 to 2009-10 report, “women earned the majority of degrees at all levels in 2009–10. For example, among U.S. residents, Black females earned 68 percent of associate’s degrees, 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees, and 65 percent of all doctor’s degrees awarded to Black students” (nces.ed.gov).
Lynda Howington is a photography student at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After many years she has decided to return to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Photography with a minor in African American Studies. Currently, she is in her second semester at Georgia State. Howington discusses her love for photography, her decision to return to school after retirement and explains the process of what she has learned in the photography program.