By Ural Garrett
WEST ADAMS — Commemorating the 40th anniversary of AIDS being recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, various community activists unveiled the Black AIDS Monument at the AIDS Health Foundation’s Healthcare Center Carl Bean House June 27.
The over six-foot high monument made of granite, topped with a bronze Sankofa bird and inscribed with the phrase “Pouring Into Each Other” took around six months to complete from its initial conception, according to creator Nijel Binns.
Known for creating art over the past several decades for notable figures including Micheal Jackson, Stan Lee, Stevie Wonder and Shirley Temple, Binn said the monument should be viewed as a tool to understand the past and future of the HIV/AIDS fight.
“Remember that this structious that most people call an obelisk but it’s actually called a tekhen and it’s from there that we get the term technology,’” Binns said. “Technology is created to uplift ourselves spiritually and this is what it’s designed to do. This is a tool to help us remember that we have to improve. That’s what technology is really about, the evolution of the human being.”
Notable HIV/AIDS activists who attended the event included U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters and Jewel Thais Williams, owner of the legendary Catch One nightclub. They were joined by AIDS Health Foundation President Michael Weinstein and board Vice Chair Cynthia Davis. The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles performed musical selections besides poetry from Love Ta’Shia Asanti and gong sound bath from Noor Singh.
In The Meantime Men’s Group organized the event at the Carl Bean House from which the nonprofit organization operates. Executive Director Jeffery King said the monument’s location is on hallowed grounds.
“This is where many people in our community came and spent their last days here at this AIDS hospice,” King said. “Now it’s been revived. The new version of this space is about living, health, wellness and the significance of this community coming together to commemorate and remember where we come from and where we are right now and speaking to the future.”
The event also coincided with National HIV Testing Day and as LGBTQ+ Pride month comes to a close.