Brothers and Sisters, When a future generation of black scholars conduct their historical research on the moral and political life of U. S. black leadership in the final decade of the twentieth century, how shall they judge our performance regarding the AIDS holocaust in the sub-Saharan Africa? How shall our inaction—especially the inaction of black men—withstand the judgment of history? What verdict will our descendants render upon their ancestors who stood by silently as a generation of African children were reduced to a biological underclass by this sexual holocaust? No doubt they will find that a few lonely voices spoke out such as Julian Bond and Ronald Dellums, but will they not ask whether we as a leadership class could not have done more?
Such questions must now be publicly confronted in the face of a human tragedy which is, in some respects, more devastating than the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Charitable scholars may situate our failures in this crisis in a comparative context. In other words, they will note that in the twentieth century we were not the only leadership class to collapse in the face of a genocidal catastrophe. Earlier in this very century others, when faced with the threat of genocidal destruction failed, whether due to paralysis, denial or disbelief, to respond in defense of their own people. The moral and political failures of others, however, will not be a sufficient explanation for why the most powerful and influential black leadership class in the world failed to act decisively in defense of their women and children.
AIDS is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. The urgent need to leverage every resource available to us to combat the spread of AIDS in Africa has been incontrovertibly ...1