Watch: Alicia Keys Hosts the 13th Annual Keep a Child Alive Black Ball

It was a magical evening of music and philanthropy to reignite the spirit of ’80s activism to end AIDS.

Keep a Child Alive co-founder and singer Alicia Keys speaks onstage during Keep a Child Alive’s Black Ball 2016 at Hammerstein Ballroom on Oct. 19, 2016, in New York City. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Keep a Child Alive

There are 36.7 million and counting people living with HIV.

It’s clear that HIV is a sorrowing epidemic that is affecting us worldwide. When you think of the devastating virus, do you imagine children whose lives are ravaged by it?

Keep a Child Alive is an organization that was created because of the children and adults in Africa who have HIV but lack the medications they need to stay alive.

In 2003, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys teamed up with AIDS activist Leigh Blake for an emergency push to get these children and families the medicine to which they don’t have access.

Keep a Child Alive’s philanthropic success has grown since its inception, and now it’s able to provide critical components necessary for successful, lifelong HIV treatment. These treatments aren’t limited to physical health but also include mental and social well-being, to make sure children and families are holistically cared for.

Keep a Child Alive has programs throughout Africa (and in the nation of India), like Family Care Clinic, WE-ACTx, Blue Roof Wellness Centre and more, which all support the effort to end AIDS for children and their families by combating the physical, social and economic impacts of HIV.

It’s the help from Keep a Child Alive’s biggest supporters that has allowed the organization to reach more than 82,000 people annually to raise awareness, mobilize people to take action and rally resources in the global response to HIV. The supporters certainly showed up for Keep a Child Alive’s Black Ball, and The Root got a chance to chat it up with them on the black carpet. Stars like Russell Simmons, Swizz Beatz, Clive Davis, Salt-N-Pepa, Alicia Keys and more shared why they took part in the epic evening and how we can all come together and shift the dialogue and the devastation surrounding HIV/AIDS.

The Black Ball was a special night filled with performances by Chance the Rapper (with whom I’m obviously obsessed), Patti Smith, A$AP Rocky, Salt-N-Pepa and Alicia Keys, and there was also an impressive auction that raised more than $500,000 for the cause, more music and a fulfilling spirit that kept the night celebratory.

In addition, this year’s Black Ball evoked the spirit of activism from the ’80s, a time when brave activists spoke out and did something about HIV/AIDS before it was fashionable or safe to do so. The event paid respect to those who acted during the time, and the theme was reflected through the decor, messaging and a live onsite installation by British visual artist Shantell Martin.

Check out the video recap:


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Danielle Young, The Root’s social-content producer, is pretty, witty, girly and worldly. One who likes to party but comes home early. Boldly telling stories with heart, sass and humor. Prince once called her “excellence.” Follow her on Twitter.

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