LAST WORDS – Black History Month: Hydeia Broadbent, you are officially an American icon and our Black history


Photos: Courtesy of Jurnee Smollett

By @jurneesmollet

Republished from the Instagram account of Jurnee Smollett

What are you supposed to say when you lose a best friend you’ve had since you were 13? How to make sense of it. I feel so angry. This is not the kind of post I would ever want to make. But in my anger and grief I want to remember to be grateful for the time we had our Hydeia on this earth. After all, the doctors said she wouldn’t live past the age of 5…she made it to 39.

The world knew her as this force, a trailblazer, an HIV/AIDS activist. Her family knew her as a loving sister and daughter. I knew her as my friend. My family knew her as another sister.

Witnessing her continuously triumph over tragedy and use her time here as a beacon of hope was like witnessing the divine in motion. My warrior woman, who literally fought her entire life to save the lives of others, Hydeia raised the consciousness and fought to destigmatize issues around HIV/AIDS. Hydeia made us all better. SHE LITERALLY BLAZED TRAILS WHERE THERE WERE NONE. She and I grew into women together and Hydeia was a huge inspiration for me to use my life for a bigger purpose. Whether it was showing up at random testing sites to encourage people to get tested and stay safe, or speaking at community gatherings, working with non-profits like the Black AIDS institute, I would never have been involved in the HIV/AIDS fight if it hadn’t been for witnessing the work Hydeia was doing. That work can be so tiring. So taxing on the body and mind. I don’t know why some are born with a force they didn’t ask for, but Hydeia’s calling on her life was mighty. I thank God for her light, her will. I will miss her laughter, her dancing, her joyous smile that lit up her beautiful big cheeks, her awful taste in tv shows, her hilarious way of making fun of how I’m really a boring nerd inside, our drives listening to music really loud, the tears we shed over heartbreaks, the way she wore her heart on her sleeve and was unable to get through a motivational talk without tearing up at some point. Courage was her middle name. A literal goddess with an otherworldly strength. A warrior’s heart who fought till the end. Rest well beautiful one. Love you forever, Deia. #RIP  #HydeiaBroadbent


Thank you Jurnee Smollett, for saying what the world wanted so desperately to say to Hydeia, but was too broken-hearted after we learned the news of her death yesterday.  We at the DC Spotlight Newspaper wanted something or someone special to celebrate this Black History Month.  We choose Hydeia Broadbent and you…along with your tribute to her illustrious life.

You and Hydeia helped champion the cause for HIV/AIDS victims when you were clearly too young to fully know the impact you would have on the world.   You both are now part of our history and the faces of the new generation of activists. 

We celebrate Hydeia’s life and legacy of service with your words — so eloquent — and what a tribute to a little girl who came to us broken on the “Oprah Winfrey Show”, but allowed us to love her back to wholeness.  And who knew she would became a legend of our Black history in the process? What a fitting tribute to close out Black History Month in 2024.  Rest well our beautiful Black butterfly.

Hydeia’s family has started a GOFUNDME in her honor to continue the work she began.

Wendy Thompson
Editor-in-chief, DC Spotlight Newspaper


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DC Spotlight's Editor-in-Chief

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