Written by | Ray Cornelius 

It was all about female empowerment last night during the “RISE Above” Campaign at the Fabulous Fox Theater’s Egyptian Ballroom. The event was free and open to the public and featured live performances from soul music star Goapele and Grammy-nominated R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn. There was also poetry, giveaways and an insightful conversation about women’s health and wellness, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

“RISE Above” is an initiative that was developed between AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and Oakland-based WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life Threatening Diseases). It was launched in March 2017, during National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness month, and has since traveled to Oakland, CA; Chicago, IL; and Cleveland, OH. It culminated last night in Atlanta, GA.

Inspired by the powerful and impactful poem, “Still I Rise”, written by the iconic artist, educator and author, the late Dr. Maya Angelou, the “RISE Above” campaign, also focused on eliminating HIV related stigma by educating and empowering women of color about healthy relationships and responsibilities. One of the evening’s highlights was a PSA featuring Emmy-winning “Greenleaf” star Lynn Whitfield reciting Dr. Angelou’s famous words.

According to current statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 individuals living with HIV in the United States are women. Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other races/ethnicities. Of the total estimated number of women living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2013, 61% (137,504) were African American, 17% (39,177) were white, and 17% (38,664) were Hispanics/Latinas.

“Across our country, women of color, from all backgrounds, continue to be impacted disproportionately by HIV and other sexually transmitted infectious diseases. As the world’s largest HIV/AIDS service organization, celebrating 30 years of positive impact around the globe, AHF is pleased to collaborate with our other partners to present this powerful evening of music, conversation and inspiration with these two amazing artists. Bringing together black women, and inspiring them to break through stigma, and become both sexually educated and empowered to Rise Above HIV is a goal we all share,” stated Samantha Granberry, AHF Vice-President of Marketing and Sales.

Another highlight of the evening was Atlanta City Council President, Ceasar Mitchell, presenting AHF and WORLD with an official proclamation declaring  November 3 as “RISE Above Day” in the city.

Check out more photos below + click here to find out how you can “RISE Above” HIV:


Raheem DeVaughn

Goapele, Raheem DeVaughn and Ceasar Mitchell 

“RISE Above” was inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou‘s “Still I Rise” poem

Goapele + Raheem DeVaughn +

Executive Director of AID Atlanta Nicole Roebuck

Roxane The Poet

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com