The lecture is being sponsored by The Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture at Hamilton College as part of its 12-week series entitled, "The Battle Against Breast Cancer: Who's In Charge?" The Kirkland Project addresses questions and issues of gender, diversity and social justice and provides college-wide opportunities for dynamic intellectual discussion, interaction and exchange.
Funding for the lecture is being provided by the Kirkland Project, the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center and Hamilton's Africana Studies program.
Byllye Avery has combined activism and social responsibility in developing a national forum for the exploration of health issues of black women, the gathering and documenting of the black woman's health experience in America, and the provision of a supportive atmosphere to allow black women to come together to individually and collectively define their health care needs.
Avery became a health care activist after her 35-year-old husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Initially she turned to the women's movement, which led to the founding of the Women's Health Center in Gainesville, Fla. She founded and was co-editor of the Women's Health news journal, Stage-Femme and was asked to serve on the board of directors of the National Women's Health Network.
Avery became especially aware of the special needs of black women in health-care issues and redirected her commitment to increasing awareness of health issues concerning all African-Americans.
In 1982, Avery moved to Atlanta and founded the national Black Women's Health Project, of which she is executive director. The organization, now with chapters in 22 states, has helped more than 5,000 women nationally. It provides a support system and technical assistance to self-help groups seeking to improve health and self-esteem and address issues that build toward empowerment. The Health Project has also established the Black Women's Wellness Center in the housing projects of Atlanta in an effort to take help to the community.
Avery is the recipient of a five-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation. She also received the Essence Award for community service, the Academy of Science Institute of Medicine's Gustav O. Lienhard Award for the Advancement of Healthcare, and the Dorothy I. Height Lifetime Achievement Award.
Avery serves on the Advisory Committee for the Office of Research on Women's Health. She spent two years as a visiting fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and is a member of the Global Fund for Women, International Women's Health Coalition and the Dana Farber Cancer Advisory Board.