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Dázon Dixon Diallo interviewed by Loretta J. Ross, April 4, 2009

 File — Box: 16

Scope and Contents

In this oral history, Diallo discusses the family and spiritual sources of her commitment to activism and describes her early involvement in feminist health work. She underscores the cultural obstacles to tackling HIV/AIDS in the rural South and traces the stages in SisterLove's expanding mission. Diallo emphasizes the essential role of Self Help in her own effectiveness as a leader and offers examples of the human rights approach to HIV/AIDS which puts women's empowerment at the center of a movement for social justice. (Transcript 56 pp.)

Dates of Materials

  • April 4, 2009

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Web Access

This interview may not be placed on the web because there was no formal web access agreement signed. Please consult with special collections staff at specialcollections@smith.edu to inquire about the existence of or access to digital copies.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview is open for research use without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The interviewer and narrator have transferred copyright of this interview to Smith College.

Biographical / Historical

Dázon Dixon was born March 25, 1965. She grew up in the small town of Fort Valley, Georgia, the eldest of three children of Clinton H. and Virginia J. Dixon. Her parents, who both had doctorate degrees, set strong examples of hard work and concern for others. The Episcopal church the family attended was the first integrated congregation in town, and Dázon was in the first integrated class in the school district. She graduated from high school in 1982.

As a student at Spelman College, Dázon took a leading role in anti-apartheid work. After attending the First National Conference on Black Women's Health Issues, which was held at Spelman in June, 1983, she sought out community women's health work. From 1984 to 1989, she was a lay health worker at the Feminist Women's Health Center in Atlanta, where she was the only woman of color on staff. Struck by the need to address HIV and AIDS among women, she and others founded SisterLove in 1989. At a time when AIDS was considered a risk primarily for gay white men, SisterLove provided safe space for women, especially women of African descent, to confront the realities of living with the disease.

SisterLove began with education and outreach programs and has moved well beyond a prevention model. By adopting the Self Help process of the black women's health movement, SisterLove encourages women to break through the strong stigma in southern culture against speaking up about sex and race. Using a human rights framework, the group combines women's empowerment with action on the multiple challenges and risk factors that women confront, including housing, drug use, poverty and violence, as well as reproductive health and sexual rights. In 1997, SisterLove became one of the sixteen founding members of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective.

Dixon has participated in major international women's health gatherings, including International Women and Health Meetings in Manila 1990 and Uganda 1993, the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the 1995 UN Women's Conference in Beijing, and the 2004 Cairo Plus Ten Conference in London. She has continuously encouraged HIV-positive women to take leadership in advocating the integration of HIV/AIDS and sexual rights into women's health and reproductive rights agendas.

Seeking to learn from and work with other women in the African diaspora, Dixon initiated collaboration between SisterLove and a women's AIDS group in Johannesburg. In 1999, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control, she established the Thembuhlelo HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The Project combines women's empowerment with HIV/AIDS services and land reform efforts. SisterLove also provides training and assistance to other AIDS organizations around the world.

In the 1990s, Dixon earned a Master's Degree in Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has taught at area colleges and has hosted a progressive women's radio program for many years. From 1999 to 2007, she was married to Elimane Amadou Diallo. Dixon remains a leader of the reproductive justice movement.

Creator

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

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