Monday, August 25, 2014

History In The Making!

I have some awesome news to share! September is Sickle Cell Awareness month all over the country!  This year the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, AL has agreed to dedicate a gallery to Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and it will be the first ever art exhibit, along with a video of those living with the disease to be placed in the Institute.  The video will be shown during the opening reception that will also play and loop in the gallery for the life of the exhibit; along with informational panels about SCD.  Just to give you a little history Birmingham, AL is the birthplace, cradle, and home of the Civil Rights Movement and we celebrated the movement’s 50th Anniversary last year.  Well, the Civil Rights Institute is across the street from where the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and also across the street from the area (now Kelly Ingram Park) where dogs attacked black protestors and water hoses were sprayed by firemen onto black protestors.  So, having an art exhibit (with artwork created by the sickle cell community) is huge in my eyes!  People come from all over the world to take a tour of the Civil Rights Institute, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and Kelly Ingram Park.  I say all of this because it just remarkable that artwork will be placed in a gallery from people living with SCD who live all over the country and the best part is it will hang through December.

Please mark your calendar to attend the opening of the exhibit along with a program and reception that will take place on September 4, 2014 at 6pm at the Civil Rights Institute and it will kick off the events in Birmingham, AL for Sickle Cell Awareness Month.  The works will be a depiction of what it feels like to live with SCD on a daily basis.  Sickle Cell Disease is an often forgotten brown people’s disease, leaving those who live it to suffer in silence.  This exhibit will be an eye opener, a mind blower, and give the public some indication of how serious this disease affects people of color.  Those living with SCD often do not have a voice sitting around the tables of the large African American social, political, or civic organizations; when this disease alters the lives of fellow brothers and sisters.  Why is SCD not the topic of conversation when it comes to which health issues or diseases will be the focus health initiative for these organizations in which we belong?  The Civil Rights Institute has decided that SCD needs attention and needs to be dealt with on a global level.  For the Civil Rights Institute to humbly accept the offer by displaying this disease in its rawest form, the arts, will show that this disease too often interrupts the lives of those living with SCD. 

Birmingham, AL has accepted the torch to carry for the country on its back in the past as it pertains to civil rights, just as the Civil Rights Institute has decided to accept the torch for the first leg of this race, as those living with SCD still fight for civil rights.  I salute the Civil Rights Institute and pray others will humbly help to run this race with and for those living with Sickle Cell Disease.  Many of us living with SCD may lose some daily battles with SCD, but we refuse to be defeated by the war that rages within!   So I challenge you to run this race with me and so many like me who live with SCD, and encourage others to place this disease at the top of the agenda during the month of September because there is power in numbers. 

No, I don’t want you to dump ice water over your head, eat some ridiculous food, put on some red lipstick, take a walk, attend a gala, or run a marathon.  I would like you to become educated about a disease that has been put on the back burner for far too long!  I challenge you and will continue to challenge you to help those of us living with the disease by making it priority this year and for years to come; by giving this disease some of your energy, time, and dollars so that those of us living with SCD will stop suffering in silence and crying in the dark!  I hold this torch today in Birmingham, AL as a black woman who has lived 40 years with a disease that no one seems to care about until it’s time for a walk or put on a pretty dress or tuxedo for a gala; that helps me in no way!  I challenge you to help me hold up this torch so the flame will continue to burn for all to see that people who look like me and you with brown skin have been suffering all alone for too long.  We need you to make us a priority, the people living with the disease!  Are you up for the challenge?  I don’t go away easily, so I will hold this torch hoping and praying for people with compassion will help me as I push SCD to the forefront of diseases in serious need of help.

Also mark your calendar for September 18, 2014 at 6pm to join us for an evening of entertainment, networking, and sickle cell awareness at Villagio's Restaurant in Ross Bridge.  Enjoy tunes, including her new single "I'm Done" by Sharon Collins Adley, Comedian Bennie Mac, and spoken word artist yours truly, Tina Kay.  Tickets can be purchased from Eventbrite or at the door.  Lastly, we are so excited about the Second Annual "Arts For Life" Festival in Avondale Park where several organizations and high schools compete to determine who can donate the most blood, register the most people for the national bone marrow registry and donate funds.  We are so excited about this fun, family friendly festival for the entire family and community as all art forms take the stage during the day as we save lives.  Mark your calendars for September 20, 2014 from 11am-6pm.  It’s not too late to enter your organization into the competition nor is it too late to be a sponsor.  Please email me at for more information regarding this article or any of the events.  Thanks in advance for your support!

By Tina Kay, or,

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