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By Brea Watts                     Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Thursday, July 12, 2012       
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Saving Our Future poster
Picture of the key poster for the community forum
on Saturday, July 14.

In spite of income, education or health care status, African-American and now African immigrant women have, on average, the nation’s highest rates of infant mortality—more than two times that of other communities. Astoundingly, African-American women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women. 

Given the gravity of the situation and the need for action, the African Women’s Development Fund USA has organized a Saving Our Future community forum to convene Bay Area African-Americans, Africans, and  allies to address the black infant mortality crisis. The forum will take place on July 14 at 10 a.m. at the  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (corner of San Fernando and 4th Streets), in San Jose, CA.

According to the event's organizer and the AWDF USA Executive Director, Dr. Jackie Copeland-Carson, “Unfortunately, attention to this critical issue has waned over the years. Saving Our Future expands community action to also include African immigrants.  We hope to revive public attention to this most basic of community concerns—producing the next generation.”

Those who attend the upcoming forum will be able to see groundbreaking PBS films, highlighting the crisis and successful black leadership models. There will also be expert panels, and community town hall meetings.  The Saturday event is the third AWDF USA Bay Area forum designed to increase public awareness of the challenge as well as highlight how Pan-African women’s leadership can address this and other social issues here and in the Motherland.

The event will feature such speakers as Fartun Weli, the founder of Isuroon in Minnesota, one of the nation’s first Somali women’s reproductive health nonprofits; Dr. Narisse Kendrick, an award-winning Bay Area ob/gyn; Gloria Brown, noted area health advocate; and Dr. Yewoubdar Beyene, an Ethiopian activist and professor at UC-San Francisco.

Saving Our Future partners include KQED, Women and Girls Lead, Priority Africa Network, the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, the Bay Area Black Nurses Association with support from the East Bay Community Foundation and The California Endowment.

Copeland-Carson noted, “This issue affects the entire community, since recent studies show that the U.S. overall has among the worse infant and maternal mortality rates among industrialized countries.”

The African Women’s Development Fund USA is a Bay Area-based national foundation that raises Americans public awareness and supports issues affecting African communities in the U.S. and the African continent.

Admission to Saturday’s forum is free and open to the public.  Walk-ins are welcome and lunch will be provided.  To register for the forum, click here or call 408-634-4837.  


Brea Watts, the author of this article, is an AWDF USA's Saving Our Future program assistant. She is a San Jose State University senior and the vice president of its Delta Sigma Theta Sorority chapter.


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