In 1989, Women With A Vision (WWAV) was just an idea thought up by eight Black women on a front porch in Central City New Orleans. The WWAV foremothers envisioned a world in which women had the space and the support needed to come together to realize their hopes and dreams for themselves, their families, and their communities. And they set their hands to making that world a reality. What began as an all-volunteer street-based outreach project in the some of the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic has grown into an internationally-renowned Black feminist leader in movements for human rights, harm reduction, sex workers’ rights, reproductive justice, and prison abolition. For thirty years, WWAV’s work has been guided by a single principle: our community holds their truths in their stories; they also hold their solutions. In this talk, Deon Haywood invites you to take a seat on WWAV’s front porch, to think with her about the landscape of climate injustice, health disparities, criminalization, gender-based violence, and religious conservatism in the Gulf Coast today, and to listen into the southern her-story through which WWAV is building the world otherwise.
Sponsored by African and African American Studies, English, Geography, History, Jewish Studies, Leslie Center for the Humanities, Religion, Society of Fellows, Sociology, Al-Nur, CoFIRED, DASA-Dartmouth African Students Association, AKA-Alpha Kappa Alpha, 4A-Asian/American Students for Action... (list in formation).
Deon Haywood has worked as a human rights defender and advocate for Black women, working class and low-income women, and LGBTQ communities in the South for more than twenty-five years. As the Executive Director of WWAV, she led the organization after Hurricane Katrina in successfully changing the “crime against nature” statute being used to criminalize street-based sex work, thereby securing the removal of more than 800 people from the Louisiana sex offender registry. Through her relentless advocacy, she has grown WWAV into a leading voice on Black women and criminalization. For this work, she has been honored with numerous awards by groups across the United States in recognition of her leadership at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice, and ending mass incarceration. In 2018, she was appointed to the New Orleans Human Relations Commission to advance this body’s work on Human Rights and Equity.