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Where were you when you found out that marriage equality was now the law of the land in the United States? Chris Bartlett, executive director of William Way LGBT Community Center, was helping to plan the city of Philadelphia’s celebration of the historic announcement. “We were in very good spirits,” he recalled. “As in any great moment, to feel like you’re living in the midst of history is very inspiring.” Spontaneous celebrations filled the streets on that June afternoon.
“Locally and globally, there are certain things that are universal,” said Tina Rodin, staff member at Philadelphia FIGHT, a comprehensive HIV/AIDS organization in Philadelphia. “People are stigmatized, isolated, and rejected from their families and communities because of HIV status everywhere in the world.” In 2013, Philadelphia FIGHT board member Bishop Ernest McNear was doing work in Ghana through his church and had started integrating HIV/AIDS education. Soon after, Philadelphia FIGHT developed an official partnership with the Ghana AIDS Commission in an area where 250,000 people are living with HIV.
“Our political education is the thing we are the most proud of,” said Cheri Honkala, organizer with Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), a Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee. “While doing housing takeovers and setting up homeless encampments, the key thing is that poor and homeless people are central to our leadership and to everything we do.” Honkala is formerly homeless and has been involved with the organization since its early days as the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. What started as a small neighborhood group to help poor families later extended to other parts of the city and then the country to organize poor communities.
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