BUFFALO, NY – A battle in progress. This is how Pastor George F. Nicholas describes the health disparities that African Americans are still trying to overcome.
âThis is an ongoing battle for our own liberation,â says Nicholas, pastor of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and organizer of the African American Health Equity Task Force. “As long as we in the African American community still have these very real health disparities, there is a level of bondage that we still are in.”
That’s why Nicholas and his colleagues from the African American Health Equity Task Force and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity are joining the University of Buffalo and its Community Health Equity Research Institute for Igniting Hope: Healing Historical Trauma from Racist Research. , Policies and Practices. The two-day conference is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and several community sponsors.
The conference launch event on August 13 will be a 2 mile long “Freedom Walk” from the African American Heritage Arch on Michigan Street along Michigan Avenue to the Freedom Wall on the corner. from East Ferry. The march is open to the community. Alternative transportation will be provided for those unable to walk. The conference sessions on August 14 will take place virtually from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Registration and additional conference information are available online. The provisional agenda was also posted.
âThe purpose of the walk is really to symbolize that people are coming together again in the community,â said Nicholas, board member of the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute. “There is a level of celebration in terms of the good work that we have done.”
He noted that without the collaborations between the task force, the center and the UB and all of their partners, he believes the results of COVID-19 in the African American community would have been much worse.
But there’s still a long way to go, and that’s the focus of the conference which organizers say focuses less on the health issues themselves and more on the systems and infrastructure that create disparities in the first place.
They note that the collaborations between UB and all community partners have all been firmly based on the idea that it is the root causes of health disparities that exist outside the health system that desperately need to be addressed.
This is the fourth year of the Igniting Hope Lecture Series. Each of the first three years attracted around 300 participants. âThis conference series is emerging as an annual summit that brings together community and academic stakeholders to understand health disparities and discuss viable solutions to this systemic problem in our community,â said Timothy Murphy, MD, director from the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute.
âWe said we would clearly identify what is causing these disparities, and then we will start to reduce them,â says Nicholas. âIt takes time. It’s not sexy, but it’s the work that needs to be done, to do the research and get the data on what really drives these things. It’s the work that needs to be done to that our children and grandchildren do not have to deal with these kinds of things.
The main speakers are:
- Thomas LaViest, PhD, Dean and Weatherhead Presidential Chair in Health Equity, Tulane University School of Public and Tropical Health, who will discuss “My journey to find out why disparities exist … and what to do about it” .
- Heidi L. Gartland, Head of Government and Community Relations, University Hospitals, Cleveland, who will discuss âThe Anchor Mission: Tackling Economic & Racial Disparities to Create Equitable Health Outcomesâ.
- Donald E. Grant, Executive Director, Mindful Training Solutions, who will discuss âHistorical Trauma: A Contemporary Conundrumâ.
Small group discussions will focus on the topics raised by the opening speeches, as well as the environment, fines and fees, historical trauma and healing, and nutrition.
In addition to Pastor Nicholas, other speakers addressing the conference are:
- UB President Satish K. Tripathi, who will deliver the opening speech
- Timothy F. Murphy MD, Distinguished SUNY Professor; director, UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute; Director, UB Community Health Equity Research Institute, University of Buffalo
- Rita Hubbard Robinson, Neuwater & Associates; Associate Director, UB Community Health Equity Research Institute
- Alan J. Lesse, MD, associate professor of medicine; Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.