by Sharon K. West –
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in the mid-1960s, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Dr. King specifically addressed infant mortality (death of children under one year old) among African Americans. He also addressed African Americans’ dying prematurely from illnesses that were treatable, but left untreated because care was not offered due to segregation and discriminatory practices.
It is disappointing to realize that 52 years later, we continue to address the plight of African Americans. Asheville is no different. African Americans are dying at twice the rate of their white counterparts in Buncombe County of cancer and heart disease. Nationally, heart disease is the #1 killer among African Americans. And, in fact, the rate of deaths for black infants is the same today as it was in 1950 across this nation: African American infants are dying at 2.5 times the rate of their white counterparts in Buncombe County.
The Asheville Chapter of the Links, Incorporated issues a Call to Action to area faith communities and Greek and non-Greek service organizations representing African Americans, to join us on Saturday, May 6 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at St. James AME Church.
Keynote speaker is Mr. Cornell Wright, Executive Director of the NC Office of Minority Health in Raleigh. Wright is an expert in the areas of health equity and disparities, minority health, and community engagement. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his extraordinary contributions to health, including the National Institutes of Health, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, North Carolina Central University, and National Minority Quality Forum.
It is our desire that each of us reach out within our community to “Take Back Our Health.” Our goal is for this to become an annual event at which we will share our outreach progress. We will work with organizations such as The Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA) to identify action steps on what we can do as a faith community and service organizations.
Please send at a minimum five people representing your organization who will share the message. Brunch will be provided and there is no cost to attend.
Please join us to make a difference in our community one life at a time.
Sharon K. West is President, The Asheville Chapter of the Links, Incorporated.