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4 Yale J.L. & Feminism 147 (1991-1992)
Empowerment through Wellness

handle is hein.journals/yjfem4 and id is 153 raw text is: Empowerment Through Wellness

Byllye Averyt
Thanks for giving yourself a hand because you're hanging in there pretty
good. My share of this thing this afternoon will be in a real different kind of
fashion, so kind of change over to the other side of your brain. And let's see
if we can work around a topic a little more personal. Because you're future
leaders here. You're the ones that are going to help get rid of some of those
old white men that you've been hearing about. Because I think that this is the
way we have to go. And I'm glad to know that fifty percent of law school
students are women. And that makes me feel good, and we're moving on to
doctors. You know, we got it.
I want to share with you a little bit about the work that I've been doing
with National Black Women's Health Project, and how we have come to form
perspectives around reproductive health, and some of the ways in which you
as individuals can work. Don't let me forget to tell you about our new office
in Washington. I've been talking to a lot of people, and we could use some
help with that. And I'll try to share a little bit of what the dialogue has been
among us as women of color.
I got started at this in 1974, when three of us decided to set up the
Women's Health Center in Gainesville, Florida. We had already been involved
in helping women get abortions, by them going up to New York. And when
white women came in, we'd give them a telephone number to go to New York
and get abortions. This was the early seventies. But when a black woman came
in, we'd try to give her the phone number and she'd say, That's not what I
need, I need money to get to New York, I need somewhere to stay, I need
money for the abortion, et cetera, et cetera. After that, we really learned
t Byllye Avery, Founding President of the National Black Women's Health Project since its
inception in 1981, has been a women's health care activist for 20 years. Ms. Avery co-founded the
Gainesville Women's Health Center and Birthplace, an alternative birthing center in Gainesville,
Florida. Awards she has received include the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for Social
Contribution in 1989, the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Greater Atlanta
in 1990, and the Ortho 21st Century Women Award sponsored by the Ortho Pharmaceutical
Corporation in 1991.
The National Black Women's Health Project is a non-profit organization committed to defining,
promoting, and maintaining the physical, mental and emotional well-being of African-American
women. A dreamer, visionary, and grassroots realist, Byllye Avery has combined activism and
social responsibility in developing a national forum for the exploration of health issues of African-
American women, the gathering and documenting of African-American women's health experiences in
America, and the provision of a supportive atmosphere for African-American women.
This article is a transcript of Ms. Avery's presentation at the Feminism in the 90s: Bridging the
Gap Between Theory and Practice Conference. Ms. Avery participated on a panel on Reproductive
Copyright 0 1991 by the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism

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