Emmy Award Winning AIDS Activist Rae Lewis-Thornton rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has been living with HIV for twenty-seven years and AIDS for seventeen years. Despite her HIV status, Rae has spent the last fifteen years traveling worldwide in an unending crusade challenging stereotypes and myths around HIV/AIDS. In addition to the December 1994 cover story for Essence magazine, Rae has been featured in many other magazines and newspapers including Ebony, Jet, Emerge, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, WOW, Poz, Lifelines and HIV Plus magazines, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post and Dayton Daily News newspapers, to name just a few.
As a contributing editor for WBBM-TV, a CBS-owned and operated television station, Rae won the coveted Emmy Award for an ongoing series of first-person reports on living with AIDS. Rae has also been featured on several national television documentaries, news shows, and television specials, such as, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline, CNN, Black Entertainment Television, (BET), and the Montel Williams Show. She was featured on NIGHTLINE with Ted Koppel numerous times in news stories entitled, Rae’s Story: AIDS The Next Wave and AIDS At Twenty Years.
Prior to Rae’s motivational speaking career, she was on her way to a promising political organizing career. Having served as Senator Carol Mosley Braun’s 1992 Senatorial Campaign Advance Coordinator, Illinois State Youth Coordinator for the 1988 Dukakis Presidential Campaign and National Youth Director for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 Presidential Campaigns, Rae was forced to retire in 1993 as a result of her health.
Rae Lewis-Thornton was licensed as a Baptist minister in July 2000 at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois by the Rev. Clay Evans. She received a Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in June 2003 and was the recipient of the Arthur Hays Fellowship in Church History. Rae Lewis-Thornton is currently a PhD student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University. In November 2002, Ebony Magazine named Rae Lewis-Thornton one of America’s 57 Most Intriguing people of 2002. She has received literally hundreds of awards for her work in HIV/AIDS in the last fifteen years. Rae is currently working on her anticipated life story, Unprotected, A Memoir.
In January 2009, Rae launched RLT Collection, a line of fashion bracelets designed and handcrafted by Rae. Her bracelets can be seen on fabulous women such as actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, Judge Glenda Hatchett and actress Suzzanne Douglas. RLT Collection is becoming a fast favorite in fashion jewelry and Rae Lewis-Thornton is one of America’s rising jewelry designers. Rae Lewis-Thornton has shown the world that one can persevere against all odds, with determination and hard work.
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