Celebrating Black History Month
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the courageous and visionary black women and men who have worked and continue to work every day to improve the quality of life for African Americans
From activists to health care providers, Planned Parenthood is proud to celebrate the remarkable contributions of African American champions of sexual and reproductive health. As part of our celebration this month, we asked members of the Planned Parenthood community and family to share their perspectives, and tell us how they're celebrating and what they're reflecting upon this month.
Champions of Women’s Health:
Also, as part of our celebrations, we’re also highlighting African-American champions of women’s health throughout history. Through their courageous and often unheralded efforts, these women and men have been extraordinary exemplars in the struggle for reproductive justice and equity in health care. For their tireless efforts, their advocacy, their positive impact, and their inspiration, we are proud to salute them and share their amazing stories.
Phill Wilson is a truly remarkable champion in the effort to combat HIV and AIDS in the black community and regarded as among the most passionate and influential African-American health advocates of our time. Phil is the founder and president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. The institute is a training and mobilization center focused exclusively on black people. The institute's mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in black communities by engaging and mobilizing black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides advocacy from a uniquely and unapologetically black point of view.
In his own words:
Phill Wilson, for your passion for change, vision and unwavering commitment to the sexual and reproductive health of the African American community, Planned Parenthood salutes you!
Eleanor Hinton Hoytt
Eleanor Hinton Hoytt has been president and CEO of the Black Women's Health Imperative (formerly the National Black Women's Health Project) since 2007. As President, Hinton Hoytt has been committed to advancing the core values of social justice in reducing health inequities, engaging black women to become advocates and leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS and breast cancer, and advancing black women's well-being by promoting reproductive justice, expanding contraceptive access and encouraging healthy sexual behavior.
Hinton Hoytt is known as a passionate leader in the women's health movement who brings the voices and needs of black women to the decision-making table. As a leading voice for black women's health to matter, she has been at the forefront of the national dialogue on health reform for women of color. In working closely with national coalitions and advocacy groups calling for affordable, available and accessible quality health care, she frequently appeals to Congress and the White House to "put people before politics."
Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, for your passion vision and unwavering commitment to the sexual and reproductive health of the African-American community, Planned Parenthood salutes you!
Mary McLeod long is past and so we cannot know for certain what she might have said were she alive today but it is clear through her legacy of education reform that she understood the importance of quality education, like the kind of sex education that Planned Parenthood continues to provide today. There is good reason to think she would have generously applauded Planned Parenthood's work especially its sex education programs.
Born in 1875 in South Carolina, Ms. Bethune dedicated her life to teaching and education and to making sure that students had the knowledge and skills to succeed in life. Her own early life taught her the critical importance of education. In her youth it was technically illegal for African Americans to learn to read. Nonetheless, showing great scholastic aptitude, she alone among her 16 siblings was chosen to go school. It was she who rose to the top of her class. After she graduated from higher education, she taught in numerous schools, and eventually established both elementary schools and a college: which was later renamed Bethune-Cookman University in recognition of her extraordinary accomplishments.
In 1920, it was Mary McLeod Bethune who rallied African-American women to exercise their right to vote. She was always an agent of progress. She served as president of the prestigious National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. She was active in many organizations including Planned Parenthood and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and she was the founding president of the National Council of Negro Women.
For these reasons and many more Planned Parenthood is proud to celebrate the life and achievements of Mary McLeod Bethune.
Planned Parenthood salutes you!
Byllye Y. Avery
Byllye Y. Avery, founder of the Black Women's Health Imperative, formerly the National Black Women's Health Project, and the Avery Institute for Social Change, has been a health care activist for over 30 years, focusing on the specific needs of women. She is a co-founder of Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need and a member of the LLuminari and Be Well health expert network.
Byllye's commitment to women's health began in the mid-1970s, when along with several other feminists she co-founded both the Gainesville Women's Health Center and Birthplace, midwifery service birthing center, in Gainesville, Florida, known today as the Birth Center.
In 1983, she founded The National Black Women's Health Project committed to defining, promoting, and maintaining the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of black women and their families. The Avery Institute for Social Change, organized in 2002, has focused its work on health care reform.
Byllye has combined activism and social responsibility to develop a national forum for the exploration of the health issues of black women. She continues to gather, document and speak on black women's health experiences in America, rallying support for black women. Her work with black women sparked a movement of women of color to become involved in defining and working on health issues important to their constituencies.
Byllye Avery, for your passion for change, vision and unwavering commitment to the sexual and reproductive health of the African-American community, Planned Parenthood salutes you!
Planned Parenthood is proud to acknowledge all the African-American heroes who have worked tirelessly for justice and for reproductive justice.