The NAACP's National Health Department is asking African-American church leaders across the country to join the NAACP in a national "Day of Unity" on Sunday, July 8, to announce the release of the pastoral brief and training manual entitled "The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative."
The NAACP has worked closely with African-American church leaders conducting focus groups and roundtable discussions to identify challenges and barriers in addressing HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. The conversations were a part of the 11-city "Let It Rise" faith tour, which featured a research component that helped to reconnect churches in their roles as leaders in social justice and advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the African-American community.
The NAACP is creating new partnerships with senior leaders of the mainline denominations – seminary leaders and national pastors – and encouraging all faith leaders to join the movement and "experience what God is beginning to do."
Using the NAACP's HIV Faith & Social Manual, the NAACP Health Department and African-American church leaders from across the country are coming together with the goal of reframing the conversation about HIV and addressing the social injustices that disproportionately impact African-American people.
"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane," said Madeleine Taylor, executive director of Memphis Branch NAACP, quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"We ask while reading this manual that you keep in mind that it is no longer just an HIV conversation, but rather a 'social justice conversation' centered around health equity and HIV in the black community."
Taylor is asking all faith leaders to partner with the NAACP Health Department. The partnership will be officially announced at the 103rd NAACP Convention in Houston on Monday, July 9, with the launch of the HIV Faith and Social Justice Manual.
Memphis area clergy have been asked to preach a sermon about HIV as a social justice issue and include HIV educational materials in their church bulletin to demonstrate the impact of HIV. They also are urged to provide HIV screenings in collaboration with local health agencies.