We're Saving Our Own Lives

Black activists will confront killer diseases at upcoming AIDS forum in Harlem

Valentine's remarks irritate Dr. Justice, who was one of Ture's doctors. "Kwame received excellent care," she told the Voice. "We went all over the world; we consulted the leading herbal doctor in Cuba and others in Mexico."

Valentine fears that an entire generation of civil rights activists may be in mortal danger if they fall victim to degenerative diseases and reject his advice to heal naturally.

"Far too many of our holy men and women— our precious teachers and elders— are leaving us prematurely because in their time of greatest need they were forced to rely on the poison-promoting protocols and life-depleting methodologies of Western medicine," he says.

Phillip Valentine, a Trinidad-born naturopath, rose to prominence in Brooklyn's black activist community in 1990 as host of "The Gathering of the Masters," a mind-blowing all-night lecture series in which activists advised participants how to heal themselves through "juice feasting," fasting, and colonic irrigation. The Masters also expounded on urban legends, rebutted gossip, and tested theories on political controversies. The Gathering ended last year shortly before Valentine left Brooklyn.

In 1990, when AIDS began to devastate the inner cities, Valentine says he, K.V. McGhee of the Tree of Life, and John Harris, founder of Natural Way Communications, were approached by someone who was trying to market an inexpensive cure for AIDS.

"We were given a prospectus on interferon therapy with different names under which it would be sold," recalls Valentine. "We were also given a breakdown of the number of people they expected to get this disease and the amount of money we would make if we invested $1000. I was just blown away."

About six months later, the government of Kenya announced that it had found a cure for AIDS, and would market it as Kemron. Valentine was more amused than impressed.

"Everybody in Africa who was dying at the time was dying from one actual disease, and that was malnutrition," he scoffs. "The very symptoms of malnutrition emulated the symptoms of AIDS."

In Harlem, the weekly Amsterdam News ran front-page stories alleging that Kemron was being ignored as a possible cure because it posed competition for expensive AIDS medications offered by the white medical establishment. Dr. Barbara Justice, along with talk show host Gary Byrd, touted Kemron on black-owned radio station WLIB.

Valentine convened a Gathering of the Masters, at which the Kemron cartel was denounced for using the grassroots community to promote the drug.

"I was beating the drum in black neighborhoods, telling them I had information from the gay community, which already had been bombarded with interferon and was saying that it didn't work," recalls Valentine. He delivered a lecture at the time entitled "AIDS, the Biggest Hoax of the Century."

Valentine's attack on Kemron and the subsequent death of Howard Beach racial beating victim Cedric Sandiford— who had AIDS and allegedly was abandoned at a Kemron clinic in Kenya— generated widespread anger toward Dr. Justice and the Kemron cartel.

Justice told the Voice that although the National Institutes of Health has terminated her trials with Kemron, she still sees HIV-infected patients whom she treats with a "different regimen."

One of the most controversial lectures at the AIDS Forum will be delivered by Curtis Cost, a key organizer. Cost has attracted a huge following since the 1991 publication of his book Vaccines Are Dangerous: A Warning to the Black Community.

"Millions of our people are dying now and many millions more are expected to die soon," Cost wrote. "It is absolutely essential that we stop passively accepting data from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and other such groups, and begin our own independent analysis into the crisis. We must design our own strategies and solutions. We must determine for ourselves the degree to which vaccines have been and probably still are being used to infect our people with the AIDS virus. This is the only way that we will get to the truth. This is the only way that we will survive."

Research: W. Michelle Beckles

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