“On Josie Webb’s thirteenth birthday, her aunt gave her a book that changed her life. It was a volume of Maya Angelou poems. After Josie read “And Still I Rise”, she knew she didn’t want to be a…a ballet dancer, or a nurse; she wanted to be a poet. So, it was a proud day when she graduated from Hillman with a degree in English Literature in high honors. That was the spring of 1992. But the following spring, Josie Webb has died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: the disease we all know as AIDS.
I didn’t get AIDS from a blood transfusion, or by doing drugs. I got it by having unprotected sex with my boyfriend junior year in high school. I knew Frank was smart, fine, team star quarterback. Neither of us knew he was HIV positive. Lying in the grass on a humid night, looking up at the stars, you just know you’re going to live forever. Lying in the grass, it’s impossible to imagine that 5 years later you’ll be lying in a hospital bed with pneumocystis pneumonia and a few years to live. Nothing like an AIDS ward to teach you that youth is not immortality. More than anything, youth is the power to make choices. Now that I’m gone, I ask one thing of you. Remember always to choose life.” -Tisha Campbell guest-starring as a student living with AIDS.
In an interview on Oprah’s “Where Are They Now?,” director Debbie Allen revealed that the episode was almost pulled from the air (due to several advertisers dropping out). However, years after the episode’s original air date, the series was praised for being one of the first to publicly tackle the subject and foster an open dialogue about the epidemic. (x)