Smith, Tyrone*

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NAME: Tyrone Smith*

Biography: AIDS activist Tyrone Smith has always had a passion for moving people forward.

In the early 80's, when AIDS and HIV first confronted gay communities across the country, Tyrone saw that there was nothing in place to support the challenes facing Black gay men in Philadelphia. With the encouragement of black leaders such as Cecil Hankins of the Philadelphia Health Department and Terrence Young of Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives, Tyrone decided to become an agent of change.

In 1984, Tyrone helped form Impact, an organization that helped sensitize the broader white community to the unique health, political and socal needs facing African-Americans in Philadelphia.

By 1985, he was elected to the board of We The People, an AIDS organizations tha t helped people living with AIDS and HIV. He was also elected to the board of the William J. Craig Foundation, an organization affiliated with hospital workers union 1199C, which supported people with AIDS.

In the mid-80s, Tyrone also became a fundraiser for people who were living and, by that time, dying of AIDS. He helped support and maintain Betak, a hospice fatility for AIDS victims. His advocacy passing out condoms to those who would take them an recruiting soldiers in the fight against AIDS, such as William Jackson, Gregory Williams, and Luther Miller.

In the early 90s, and with help from city and community leaders, Tyrone co-founded UNITY, Inc. , the first grassroots organization run by black gay men for black gay men. In that role, Tyrone became an outspoken advocate for the issues affecting Black gay men. He went on to become that agency's first and only executive director, collecting numerous awards and city commendations. He maintained the organization throughout the 1990s.

In addition to becoming a public speaker, talk show host, spokesperson, ocmmunity organizer and a ledaer in helping the faith community in Philadelhpia confront AIDS as a crisis, Tyrone has lent his support to other agencies throughout the city. He served on the HIV planning committee for the Philadelphia EMA, whic helped decide how AIDS funding was being spent in the region. He also chaired that organization's African American caucus, among many other boards and committees.

Tyrone currently serves as associate director of Neighborhoods United Against Drugs and is a board member and founding member of the Black Gay Men's Leadership Council. He also sits on the advisory board for the ISIS Project, an after school program for young girls.

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His friends include: (C. Denise Pressley, Terence Young, Michael Hinson)

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