In Zimbabwe in the 1980s, Mary Bassett witnessed the AIDS epidemic firsthand, and she helped set up a clinic to treat and educate local people about the deadly virus.
But looking back, she regrets not sounding the alarm for the real problem: the structural inequities embedded in the world's political and economic organizations, inequities that make marginalized people more vulnerable.
These same structural problems exist in the United States today, and as New York City's Health Commissioner, Bassett is using every chance she has to rally support for health equity and speak out against racism. "We don't have to have all the answers to call for change," she says. "We just need courage."
"Everything has life and deserves great respect."