A Beacon for Positive Change
Billy R. Cox Scholarship Established in School of Public Health
George L. Howell Jr., M.D., and the many contributors to the Billy R. Cox Fund of The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham have honored Mr. Cox by establishing an endowed scholarship in his name in the UAB School of Public Health. The funds will assist students in the school who demonstrate an interest in public-health issues for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations.
Cox was one of the first Birmingham men to speak publicly about having AIDS. He became resource development director and chairman of the board of directors for Birmingham AIDS Outreach, Alabama’s largest AIDS service organization, and co-founder of Celebrate Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to funding AIDS-related causes. He also was instrumental in bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Birmingham in 1989, and in 1993, he served as grand marshal for the Alabama AIDS Walk. In 1994, Cox was recognized at the AIDS Task Force of Alabama awards dinner. That same year, he carried the banner for Team UAB in the third annual Alabama AIDS Walk.
During the final six months of his life, Cox candidly shared his experience in a series of articles that appeared in The Birmingham News, and his story touched the hearts of many in the city. Following his death at the age of 37 in 1994, the Billy R. Cox Fund was established to memorialize him and further the important AIDS outreach work he began.
“This scholarship offers a unique opportunity to give financial support and to attract students with a strong sense of social justice in an area that is at once complex and compelling,” says Max Michael, M.D., dean of the School of Public Health. “It is a reminder of the importance of a strong, vocal commitment to the health and well-being of everyone in our society, regardless of whether or not the issues are popular or in vogue. For our students, who are the public health leaders of tomorrow, the legacy can be a beacon of equity and justice.”
The inaugural Billy R. Cox Endowed Scholarship was awarded this fall to Reverend Tommy Watkins Jr., a doctoral candidate in the UAB School of Public Health and a prevention specialist at AIDS Alabama.
Maintaining the Momentum / Summer/Fall 2009