Women in Kentucky - Reform

Belinda Mason: In “Belinda,” a video by Appalshop Productions, Belinda Mason tells why she was the perfect poster heroine for persons with AIDS: “I have a family. I’m white. I come from the South…easy to respond to…I look right. I got AIDS the right way. Most people with AIDS aren’t like me. I’m palatable, like mashed potatoes and gravy, I figure.”

Her statements reflect her commitment to furthering the understanding that all persons infected with the HIV virus deserve the same treatment. Best known as an eloquent and forceful spokesperson for those living with AIDS, Belinda Mason in the late 1980s lent her writing and speaking skills to the cause of securing more humane treatment for the thousands of Americans infected with the HIV virus. She co-founded the Kentuckiana People with AIDS Coalition, was elected president of the National Association of People with AIDS, and was appointed by George Bush to the National Commission on AIDS, the first person with the disease to occupy a seat on the commission. Mason worked with her father, the late Kentucky Representative Paul Mason of Whitesburg, to sponsor legislation to protect the rights of Kentuckians with HIV infections. HB 425 mandates AIDS education for health professionals and legislates against discrimination on the basis of the disease.

Before contracting HIV in 1987, Mason had begun a career as a fiction writer. Her stories appeared in literary magazines and in the anthology A Gathering at the Forks. In addition to short fiction, Mason developed a one-act play, The Gift of the Spirit, with Roadside Theatre, and began work on a second play.

Like their creator, Mason’s characters are rural and small-town Kentuckians, who confront questions of meaning, values, perceptions, against a backdrop of kitchen tables and vegetable gardens. “I grew up believing that being a Kentuckian was a special blessing. Now that I have traveled, I know that what I believed all along was true.”

- Anne Shelby

Visit Appalshop's Web site to find out how to order a copy of Belinda Mason, an Appalshop film directed by Anne Lewis.

Read more about Belinda Mason.
For more information about HIV/AIDS and an extensive list of links, visit the Center for Disease Control’s Web site.

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Site Overview


A. What

Performing Arts
Public Service

B. When

View a selected history of women
View a selected history of women
Sounds and images
Civil War Diaries

C. Where

Central / Northern Kentucky
Western Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky
Southern Kentucky


Selected Readings
Educational Tools
Web tools
Archival Collections
Children's Books

E. About this Project

Women in Sports:

Minnie Adkins
Elizabeth Barret, Anne Lewis, Mimi Pickering, & Justine Richardson
Jane Burch Cochran
Joan Dance
Enid Yandell

Women in Business:

Nelda Barton-Collings
Julia Dinsmore
Laura Freeman
Mattie Mack
Lena Madesin Phillips
Caroline Burnam Taylor

Women in Education:

Helen Lew Lang
Katherine Pettit
Jane Stephenson
Cora Wilson Stewart

Women in Health/Medicine:

Mary Britton
Linda Neville
Ora Framer Porter
Louise Southgate, M.D.

Women in Journalism:

Linda Boileau
Alice Allison Dunnigan

Women in Law:

Pearl Carter Pace
Lt. Colonel Linda Smith

Women in Literature:

Effie Waller Smith

Women in Military:

Lt. Anna Mac Clarke
Capt. Helen Horlacher Evans
Julia Ann Marcum

Women in Music:

Sarah Ogan Gunning
Helen Humes
Lily May Ledford
Reel World String Band
Jean Ritchie
Mary Wheeler

Women as Pioneers:

Esther Whitley

Women in Public Service:

Governor Martha Layne Collins
Emma Guy Cromwell
Rep. Mary Elliott Flanery
Sen. Georgia Davis Powers
Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall

Women in Reform:

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Laura Clay
Eula Hall
Josephine Henry
Belinda Mason
Lois Morris
Eliza Caroline Calvert Obenchain
Charlotte Richardson
Joan Robinett
Mary Sue Whayne
Corinne Whitehead
Evelyn Williams

Women in Religion:

Eldress Nancy Moore
Rabbi Gaylia Rooks

Women in Science:

Sarah Frances Price
Ellen Churchill Semple

Women in Sports:

Terri Cecil-Ramsey
Geri Grigsby
Audrey Whitlock Peterson
Mary T. Meagher Plant