To Make the Wounded Whole

To Make the Wounded Whole: The African American Struggle against HIV/AIDS is now available for pre-order from University of North Carolina Press! Use promo code 01DAH40 at checkout to receive 40 percent off the cover price. Ebook readers can also purchase the Kindle edition now from Amazon.

To Make the Wounded Whole offers the first history of African American AIDS activism in all of its depth and breadth. It introduces a diverse constellation of activists, including medical professionals, Black gay intellectuals, church pastors, Nation of Islam leaders, recovering drug users, and Black feminists who pursued a wide array of grassroots approaches to slow the epidemic’s spread and address its impacts. Through interlinked stories from Philadelphia and Atlanta to South Africa and back again, this book documents the diverse, creative, and global work of African American activists in the decades-long battle against HIV/AIDS.

Here’s what scholars are saying about To Make the Wounded Whole:

Royles has delivered a masterfully nuanced yet clearly rendered account of one of the greatest challenges to African American health and politics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Samuel Kelton Roberts Jr., author of Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation

To Make the Wounded Whole is original and important. It challenges the notion that African Americans were passive, powerless, or oppositional in addressing the health crisis, demonstrating that Black LGBTQ activists and their allies developed powerful and influential community-based responses to the AIDS epidemic.

Marc Stein, author of Sexual Injustice: Supreme Court Decisions from Griswold to Roe

A brilliant account of African Americans’ underappreciated grassroots responses to the AIDS epidemic. This important book strikingly documents this multifaceted health activism and its novel array of healing strategies. A groundbreaking, essential contribution.

Alondra Nelson, author of Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination


Along with To Make the Wounded Whole, I have several recently published book chapters and articles:

  • “‘Don’t We Die Too?’: The Politics of AIDS and Race in Philadelphia,” in Beyond the Politics of the Closet: Gay Rights and the American State since the 1970s, ed. Jonathan Bell (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020)
  • “Race,” in Routledge History of American Sexuality, ed. Kevin Murphy, Jason Ruiz, and David Serlin (Routledge, 2020)
  • “Tales from Behind the Wall: ACT UP/Philadelphia and HIV in Prisons,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography (October 2019)

Click here to see more of my writing.


As part of my research for To Make the Wounded Whole, I launched both an oral history project among African American AIDS activists and an online archive of the fight against HIV and AIDS in Black America.

I’m also the principal investigator on a federally funded two-year project to digitize the archives of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, which preserves the history of Miami’s “colored only” beach. As part of that project, a team of five FIU graduate students has digitized thousands of unique documents and artifacts that capture Miami’s African American history.


I regularly teach courses in United States, African American, LBGTQ, oral, and public history. My approach to teaching emphasizes investigation, discussion, and active learning, and my upper-level and graduate courses push students to interpret the past for public audiences. For example:

  • in Fall 2017 students in my African American history course at Florida International University constructed digital exhibits for the African American AIDS History Project
  • in Fall 2014, students in my Introduction to Digital Humanities class at Stockton University worked together on a web platform for the Staring Out to Sea Oral History Project, a set of interviews conducted by students at Kean University about Hurricane Sandy in northern New Jersey

I’m happy to share teaching resources. Check out: