‘Saving Grace’ Exhibit Highlights Black Community’s Relationship With AIDS

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Photo by John McDonald.

An exhibit targeting high school students and the black community is now on display at the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center in Wilton Manors.

“It’s a really powerful exhibit,” said Ed Sparan, museum operations manager, as he gave a tour to SFGN. “We had 250 people at the opening and everybody was having such a good time, no one wanted to leave.”

The exhibit is a traveling one and for its opening the Old Dillard Museum was selected as a host site. ‘Saving Grace’ tells the story of the black community’s relationship with AIDS.  It is a story, Sparan said, often muted by shame and stigma.

Globally, the World Health Organization estimates 36.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and of that statistic, black people have been affected the most. Blacks had the highest numbers of reported new cases of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

The Westside Gazette, South Florida’s newspaper of record for African Americans, said the pandemic “has spread through our community like a wild fire out of control.” The Westside Gazette, in partnership with World AIDS Museum and Educational Center, presented “Saving Grace” – a multimedia exhibit with testimony from local black activists, politicians and community leaders.

Photo by John McDonald

“I can’t emphasize it enough that HIV/AIDS is not an alone disease, so why should we allow those who are living with the virus to live and love alone? We must join together for all of us and fight for our loved ones,” writes Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby R. Henry, Sr. in the newspaper’s April 20th edition.

Those who visit the museum’s Wilton Station location can watch a 20-minute video, which includes an interview with Henry, Sr., Florida Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), South Florida pastors and people who have been infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.

“I was 15 when I was diagnosed,” says Yolanda Reed in the video. “I was angry when I first found out and I did some real reckless things.”

Sparan said the exhibit was made possible with funding provided by grants awarded to permit WAM to enter the public schools systems of Broward County, Los Angeles and Detroit. He called the educational project by its social media hashtag, #InControl.

Up next for the museum is a July 9 launching of Lois Wilson’s windows exhibit. Wilson is a social worker from New York City. “Saving Grace” is on display through July 30 at 1201 N.E. 26th Street, Suite 111 in Wilton Manors.

For more information or museum hours, visit WorldAIDSMuseum.org or call 954-390-0550.


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