Changing the world takes brilliant, clear thinkers. It takes commitment. And it takes the ability to *mobilize* other people to change the world with you.
For decades, ACT UP Philadelphia has been mobilizing people living with AIDS to take to the streets. They have organized countless marches and protests and rallies and their actions have saved countless numbers of lives. And they have won. They have successfully pressured the US Government to create PEPFAR; their demonstrations led DIRECTLY to all 2008 Democratic Presidential candidates committing to funding the fight against global AIDS at $50 billion over 5 years (an increase from President Bush's thirty billion). They are the grassroots of the Global AIDS Movement but they are also an incredibly inspiring organization. Completely volunteer run, meeting weekly for decades with no money, constantly recruiting new members, constantly changing with the times, always run by low-income people of color living with AIDS. I would hold up the ACT UP PHILLY ratio of resources to results ... against any big, full-of-itself organization, anywhere in the world. If Congress worked as efficiently and with as much commitment as ACT UP Philly, AIDS would be cured, cars would run on air, and corporations would actually pay taxes.
I was an ACT UP Philly gadfly in my activist days, and I never learned more anywhere else, about the activist math of combining desperation with commitment with leverage with integrity with chutzpah with humility... for results.
We owe them a lot more than this award -- but this award is something they richly deserve. On behalf of Health Gap, I'm proud to present the first-ever Dr. Alan Berkman Global Health Justice Award -- to ACT UP Philadelphia.
UPDATE: Why Rachel Maddow loves ACT UP Philly (and why you should too)
Remember a couple weeks ago when ACT UP received a Dr. Alan Berkman Global Health Justice Award? And we said we would try to get a copy of Rachel Maddow's remarks. Well, we got 'em! Here's what she had to say...