Video: "Is my Momma ever coming back?"

Note: Links to download the iPod and other versions of the video are at the bottom of the page.

Nine years ago as prison chaplain Novella Smith Arnold recognized a serious problem. Not only was AIDS and the HIV virus that causes it spreading throughout the County jails, it was rapidly migrating from the jails into the Memphis community. Because of widespread homophobia and denial, the wives and lovers of former inmates were not aware of the danger, and were not taking steps to protect themselves.

Working with producer Carole Manning, producer/editor Bill Lineberry, and a donation of WMC Channel 5's studio facilities, Novella wrote and starred in a public service announcement (PSA). With a tightly-wound script, edgy quick-cut editing, and very startling visuals, the 30-second spot carried a life-and-death message to the community: Get tested.


The Emmy-nominated spot was filmed on location at Elmwood Cemetary. Novella's friends and colleagues played acting roles. The little boy who says "Is my Momma ever coming back?" is Novella's own adoptive grandson. Now 13, he attends Snowden School.

The PSA ran on Memphis TV for many years, It was also distributed across the country, thanks to a $10,000 State grant secured by Rep. Kathryn Bowers.




See also: Memphis ad warns nation of HIV (Commercial Appeal, May 8, 1997)

DSL/Cable users: Download and play the video:Dial-up users: Click for storyboard and script.