NOTE: This event has been canceled. Byllye Avery is in her eighties and her doctor has advised her not to fly because of the Coronavirus threat. Although we are disappointed that she won’t be here, we totally support her decision to stay safe and healthy. 

As a part of Celebrate Women 2020, Byllye Avery is coming to Gainesville from March 12-15 to ignite the activism in all of us. She is passionate about bringing together black and white women in order to create new paradigms which include all of us. She believes that it is imperative that we unite now in order to preserve the rights that we have EARNED, to recognize our interdependency, and to work together to create a world where compassion, justice, and mutual respect reign. She challenges us with “What will YOU do?”

Byllye grew up in Deland, Florida, went to a private black college in Alabama, then came to Gainesville in the ’60s to attend graduate school at UF. She is one of the founders of the Gainesville Women’s Health Center (1974) and of BirthPlace (1978). In the ’80s she founded what has become the Black Women’s Health Imperative. In 1989, she received the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Award,” the first of over 50 awards she has received over the years (most recently, one from the United Nations). She was featured on PBS’s “Women Who Make America.”

Byllye is participating in five Celebrate Women 2020 events. She’ll do two talks at the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies, one on Thursday, March 12, and one on Friday, March 13. The Thursday talk will be in Ustler Hall at 11 am to a class on Black Feminism. The Friday talk will be at 11 am at Ustler Hall and will be on Health Disparities between Black and White Women. This talk will be followed by a reception. The public is invited to attend these talks. On Friday evening at 6 pm, she will meet with young women and girls and their families at the Cotton Club to lead a discussion about forming positive attitudes toward menstruation. This is being organized by Terri Cook Bailey, of BLAAC2BASICS.

On Saturday morning at 10 am, Byllye will give our Celebrate Women 2020 Keynote Speech at the United Church of Gainesville, 1624 NW 5th Ave. This talk will be about Byllye’s journey as a Women’s Health activist and the Urgency of Now. A reception will follow the talk, which is free and open to the public. Saturday night will be a reunion of women who worked at the Gainesville Women’s Health Center in the 1970’s. Write to Pam Smith at acupam@bellsouth.net for more details.

And finally, on Sunday, March 15, at 4 pm at the Cotton Club, 837 SE 7th Ave., Byllye will participate in “The Grandmother’s Play – a look back at the experiences of black and white women of Gainesville during the Jim Crow days. It is based on the oral histories of local women talking about race relationships during that time.

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