Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ”Evolved Man of the Week” profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the activist, author, fellow Chicago native, and CEO and founder of The Black AIDS Institute, Phill Wilson.
Phill Wilson’s career in activism started after he and his partner, Chris Brownlie, were both diagnosed with HIV in the early 1980s. This was at a time when the AIDS epidemic was just starting in the United States, and Wilson has said he did not feel like anyone was bringing together the black community to solve the problem. The country believed that AIDS was a gay disease, and outreach was primarily focused on white, gay communities when Wilson found that AIDS affected the black community much more. When his partner died of HIV-related illness in 1989, Wilson channeled his grief into activism.
Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999 to advocate for the treatment of black people with HIV and AIDS. The organization is dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS within the black community by seeking culturally inclusive solutions and equipping community leaders to do the same. In 2010 he was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
Here is Phill Wilson in his own words concerning the continued fight against HIV/AIDS:
I used to say that I did not believe that I would live to see the end of this epidemic. I don’t say that anymore. I believe that it is entirely possible that I will see the end of the epidemic, but we are at one of those deciding moments. Whether we end it now or not is totally up to us.
In 1999 Wilson was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was given the Leadership for a Changing World award by the Ford Foundation. In 2004, he was the recipient of the Discovery Health Channel Medical Honor. He was also “named one of the ‘2005 Black History Makers in the Making’ by Black Entertainment Television.” Wilson also received the Delta Spirit Award from the Delta Sigma Theta Los Angeles chapter. In July 2016, it was announced he would win GLADD Legal Advocates & Defenders’ 2016 Spirit of Justice Award. He has published numerous articles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Essence, and Ebony Magazine.
Today we honor Phill Wilson as our Evolved Man of the Week.