National Action Network (NAN), the civil rights group founded by Reverend Al Sharpton in 1991, has honored Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) with one of its “Keepers of the Dream” awards.
Weinstein received the award at NAN’s 16th annual convention in New York City on Wednesday. The awards are given each year in April to mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death. NAN says the purpose of the award is to “…honor those who have continued to advocate for the principles for which Dr. King gave his life. The Keepers of the Dream awards are given by members of the civil rights community who have committed themselves to fairness and racial harmony.”
Weinstein, whose Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the world’s largest AIDS organization, was honored for his HIV/AIDS work. That work includes the launch of the the “AIDS is a Civil Right Issue” awareness and advocacy campaign, which focuses on the fact that African-Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and spearheading ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ marches and rallies in Washington, New York, Atlanta and Cleveland. The award was presented by Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, NAN’s chairman, and Rev. Sharpton.
“I am humbled to be considered a ‘Keeper of the Dream’ and honored by this recognition by the National Action Network and the community,” Weinstein said. “Sadly, AIDS today has a disproportionate—and devastating—impact on both the African-American and Latino communities. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, working together with partners like Rev. Sharpton as well as churches, non-profits and community groups around the nation, is striving to open a frank dialogue within the community to address these health disparities through forums including our ‘AIDS Is A Civil Right Issue’ events. The campaign and these town hall discussions also emphasize the fact that access to HIV prevention, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS should be universal.
“While deeply honored by this award, we still have much work to do in this fight. We must also remember and commend the work of those like Dr. King, who came before us and helped pave the way for such awareness campaigns to be possible.”
AHF launched its “AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue” national awareness campaign on Martin Luther King Day, and it was supported by events throughout February in Jackson, MS; Baton Rouge, LA; Dallas and Los Angeles – all of which featured Sharpton as the keynote speaker. AHF expanded the reach and imagery of the campaign’s billboard component—which initially featured artwork consisting of a stylized, artistic rendering of civil rights icon Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. with the headline, “AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue”—by posting similar artwork featuring Cesar Chavez with the tagline, “SIDA, Cuestíon de Derechos Humanos” in Miami and Los Angeles in March.
Sharpton founded the nonprofit civil rights group National Action Network in New York City in 1991. This year’s four-day convention will feature discussions on elections, gun violence, immigration, women’s rights, and the annual “Keepers of the Dream” reception, which spotlights modern-day civil rights efforts that align with and support hopes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed in his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.