The Red Pump Project closed its doors.

“Behind the Red Curtains” Was Amazing!

by Jenna Marie Christian

On December 3, 2010, The Red Pump Project partnered with Rush University Medical Center Section of Infectious Diseases to host “Behind The RED Curtains: Monologues on HIV” in celebration of World AIDS Day. As many of you may know, World AIDS Day was established in 1988 by The World Health Organization in hopes of raising awareness and encouraging everyone to be responsible, be protected and get tested. Red Pump and Rush Medical Center united this past Friday to do our part for World AIDS day and bring the community together to for the night at the very nice and cozy Room 43 located in Chicago’s Bronzeville area to educate, entertain, and motivate men and about the importance of being aware.

The night began with a delightful reception hour that provided time to mix and mingle with all of the amazing attendees and performers while enjoying hor’derves and beverages. Craig Johnson, Community Health Promoter at Rush Medical Center did a fantastic job of welcoming everyone and introducing the mistress of ceremony, the lovely Dana Divine. Now it was time to get ready for a fantastic show of Personal stories, poems, songs, and monologues. Dana Divine blessed the crowd with her beautiful voice by singing “I Love the Lord” and giving her touch on her health and losing loved one that suffered with AIDS.

The first performer was motivational speaker, Author, and AIDS Activist David Robertson who captivated the audience within few seconds of his performance. Delivering his personal story with such power, passion, and sincerity in such a poetic manner left the crowd speechless and forced to their feet for a standing ovation. Jazz Vocalist Maggie Brown used her lovely voice to deliver a thought provoking original song called simply titled “HIV” over a smooth track that moved the crowd. Then Sister Yaa Simpson, Keith Romell, Sanford Gaylord, and Mama Brenda Matthews used their gifts as spoken word artists and creative activists to bring home the message of taking responsibility for your sexual health, being knowledgeable of HIV/AIDS, and most importantly, that the increasing rate of those suffering and becoming infected AIDS affects us all.

In the midst of it, Red Pump co-founders Luvvie Ajayi and Karyn Watkins spoke about the history of The Red Pump Project. And SAVE THE DATE: The Red Pump Project’s 2nd annual “Rock the Red” fashion show is on March 26, 2011 in Chicago. Details to come.

The night ended with a touching delivery of “I Am Changing” sang by Craig Johnson. Slowly, but surely we are changing the way the world’s views on HIV and those that are infected starting with ourselves. An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and yet one out of five don’t know it. We need your continued support to take action.

The Red Pump Project would like to thank all of you for attending and donating. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Chicago House, the first organization in the Midwest to provide housing for people living with HIV/AIDS.


We’d like to say thanks to our Mistress of Ceremony, Dana Divine. She was hilarious, interesting & fantastic! Our performers were beyond amazing too! We say a huge thanks to our performers for sharing your talents and time with us.

We appreciate you, Sister Yaa Simpson, Maggie Brown, Sanford E. Gaylord, David Robertson, Mama Brenda Matthews and keithrommell!

Special thanks to: Tibotec Therapeutics, Norman Bolden and Room 43, Studio 21, and Rush University Medical Center.

And of course, to the Rush Medical Center Section of Infectious Diseases team who partnered with us to make this event happen, Craig Johnson and Dr. Kimberly Y. Smith, we appreciate this collaboration. You’re doing amazing work, and it was an honor to show what is “Behind the RED Curtains” with your team.

View the slideshow of pictures below. Or check out the Red Pump Facebook page for more pictures!

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