NCNW Working with Local Communities across the Nation to promote Health Equity, Justice, and Democracy

NCNW Working with Local Communities across the Nation to promote Health Equity, Justice, and Democracy

Washington, DC, Friday, February 26, 2021 – Today, NCNW convened leaders in civil rights, business and health care to roll out an ambitious intergenerational action agenda to promote justice and health equity. The goal is to hold democratic institutions and commercial systems accountable for persistent and unconscionable gaps in wealth, health, civil rights and criminal justice. The action agenda includes a plan to assure that community leaders are involved in the local, county, state and national policy making bodies that define how health care is distributed, how public funds are allocated and how leaders in business and government respond to the clear will of the people.

In a day-long symposium in observance of its 85th Anniversary, NCNW brought together health care luminaries, including Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, Dr. Toni Hoover, Dr. Reed Tuckson and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, and Colleen Payne-Nabors, all of whom underscored the importance of equity in health care. They emphasized the safety and efficacy of modern vaccines, the continuing testing that is occurring and the continuing need to respect and follow recommended public health practices. Experts united in laying out a campaign to involve and unite communities of color in a campaign for equity, democracy and justice. Those involved include 23rd Secretary of Labor, Hon. Alexis Herman; Ms. Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and one of the architects of the 2021 electoral mobilization in Georgia, and Barbara Arnwine, founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition.

Addressing this nation’s frequent history of violent, racial hostility requires an acknowledgment of past and current inequities along with policies that advance systemic reforms rooted in transparency and accountability. There is a very long history of systemic racism against Black women, men and children by individual white supremacists and by state-sanctioned acts that began during the years of enslavement and continued during the period of reconstruction and Jim Crowism. Such violence continues to plague our communities. Today there are clear and irrefutable acts of police violence, insurrection, voter suppression, educational neglect and health inequity that require urgent and necessary action. And that is what we are determined to do, to act.

Beginning in April 2020, NCNW’s Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole was one of the first to sound the alarm that the pandemic was hitting communities of color hard and immediately shifted NCNW’s virtual programming to focus on the societal factors bearing down on them, including economic distress, essential work, racial trauma and Black-owned business vulnerability. The United States should not be leading the world in COVID deaths, given the sophistication and resources of our healthcare system.

NCNW has formed the Good Health WINs alliance with Vaccinate Your Family to help assure that networks of trusted voices come together across the nation to amplify the influence of women – who make 80% of family medical decisions. NCNW will initially focus on members of its sections, guilds and affiliates in the states of Georgia, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey and New York. NCNW hosts numerous virtual events to heighten awareness, encourage listening and spark change. With the support of a grant from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), NCNW has assembled a powerful team of allies to intensify its community engagement and civic education activities, including many of the 32 National Affiliates.

NCNW has established a Health Equity Advisory Committee that includes notable health leaders including NCNW Health Equity Committee, Dr. Patricia Matthews-Juarez, Vice President and Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Meharry School of Medicine; Dr. Kathleen B. Kennedy, Dean of the Xavier University College of Pharmacy; Benita Harris-McBride Sr. Public Health Advisor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ms. Karen Eubanks Jackson Founder/CEO of Sisters Network® Inc.; Ms. Hydeia Broadbent, International HIV/AIDS Activist & Humanitarian; Ms. Masonia Traylor, Speaker, Community Advocate; Ms. Nakeitra Burse, Owner & CEO Six Dimensions, LLC The committee is chaired by public health educator and Georgia NCNW President, Sharah Denton.

The NCNW Good Health WINs (Women’s Immunization Networks) are working to assure meaningful access to health care, including equitable administration of COVID testing, treatment and vaccines. Environmental injustice, income and wealth disparities and the large proportion of front-line workers who are people of color all contribute to the heavy price that communities are paying in sickness, poverty, hunger and death.

It is time that we made a serious effort to eliminate the injustice of child poverty and invest in a demand-side program of education, training and investments to lift the most vulnerable communities no matter where they are and who lives in them. As Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune wrote six decades ago, “The principle of justice is fundamental and must be exercised if the peoples of this country are to rise to the highest and best for there can be neither freedom, peace, true democracy or real development without justice.” Dr. Bethune founded NCNW in 1935, to give Black women a stronger voice in civic affairs. One of the issues of great concern at that time was the pandemic of lynching. Today it is Black Lives Matter. We recall and focus on Dr. Bethune’s words so that we can learn the lessons of history. The NCNW Action Agenda calls for cultivating allies across lines of color, race, geography and class in the firm belief that most Americans favor fair and equitable treatment of all people.

National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) is a Washington, D.C.-based charitable organization making a difference in the lives of women, children, and families through a four-pronged strategy that emphasizes entrepreneurship, health equity, STEAM education, and civic engagement. Founded 85 years ago, NCNW has 300 community and campus-based sections and thirty-two national affiliates representing more than Two Million women and men. NCNW’s programs are grounded on a foundation of critical concerns known as Four for the Future. NCNW promotes education with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering, and math; encourages entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and economic stability; educates women about good health and HIV/AIDS; promotes civic engagement and advocates for sound public policy and social justice. NCNW is known for its work to educate college age women about HIV/AIDs and for producing the Black Family Reunion. Current programs include GirlTech, HBCU College Fair, Millennial Entrepreneurs and Adulting 101. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D., is the National Chair and Seventh President of NCNW. NCNW has campaigned for clean water for Flint, MI, voting rights, and SNAP benefits. For more information please visit or NCNW’s social channels via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

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