June was an active month for The Center for Black Health & Equity. Staff members were all over the country working to fulfill our organizational mission to improve health outcomes for Black people everywhere. Here are some of the highlights:
Natasha Phelps, director of Equity-Centered Policies, spoke at the White House Cancer Moonshot Forum on Smoking Cessation. Attendees witnessed great discussions about what steps the White House can take to tackle smoking and cancer-related smoking deaths. Natasha's remarks start at the 5:19 mark.
The Center’s HIV Program coordinators, Donte Prayer and John Rowell, spent the week at the North Carolina General Assembly engaged in policy and advocacy activations centered around persons directly or indirectly impacted by HIV, AIDS and viral Hepatitis. Prayer and Rowell had lead roles in the planning and execution of “HIV Speaks on Jones St,” an annual HIV Advocacy Day. They met with 17 legislators, completed over 47 policy brief literature drop-offs to legislators' offices, and participated in focused meetings with the Governor’s office.
Also, in honor of Pride Month, the HIV Team supported several events including DC Black Pride to promote health equity for Black LGBTQ+ people. Through this outreach, they have engaged with over 5,000 people to disseminate HIV prevention care and MPOX messaging.
House Bill 179 died in the Louisiana Legislature on the Senate Floor after not garnering enough support for concurrence. This is due to the efforts of senior program manager Ashley Hebert and others, who were able to educate the Louisiana public health partners and lawmakers on why the exclusion of mint and menthol works against model policy. Louisiana State Senator Gary Carter then added mint and menthol to the bill. This is a step in the right direction to make sure equitable policies are developed before they are presented for a vote.
Also in Louisiana, New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas has pulled an ordinance to weaken the Smoke-Free Air law that would have allowed for new cigar bars to open in the city. The Center, along with state and local advocates, worked together to make this happen.
In Detroit, Michigan, Community Initiatives Manager Gregor Bolden and The Center’s community partner Minou Jones of Making It Count held a luncheon to educate on big tobacco’s tactics to target Black communities as it pertains to menthol and flavored tobacco products. The event included radio host and author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
Communications Manager Iman Byfield will be representing The Center at the APHA 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo in November. She will be speaking on the TruthCheck campaign to speak on a panel called "Demystifying health information access with media literacy".