The 7th Annual Black Health & Healing Summit, organized around the theme “We the People: Exercising Our Power, ”will take place Saturday, April 19 at San Francisco State University.
The summit will address the policies pertaining to incarceration, reentry, mental health, HIV, economic and housing justice, and other policy issues impacting Black and marginalized communities.
This year speakers include, Dr. Fania Davis, Angela Davis’ sister, Pastor Michael McBride, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Lynette Sweet, Ed Donaldson, Deputy Public Defender Demarris Evans, Dr. Malcolm John, and entertainment provided by Vukani Mawethu Choir.
< p>The event is presented by the Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA), a nonprofit organization that began in 1986 in San Francisco, dedicated to reducing health disparities in the Black community, particularly the spread of HIV/AIDS.
BCA Executive Director Perry Lang decided he had to do something a number of years ago when he read a San Francisco Public Health report that highlighted the years of life lost, as a result of premature mortality, especially among Blacks.
It was at that moment that he realized BCA’s focus had to change to address all health conditions in the Black community and not just HIV/AIDS, which is only one of the many health disparities experienced by Black San Franciscans.
Juarre Wilson, program director of BCA since 2011, says being a part of this journey has confirmed his mission in life, which is to promote health and social justice in the Black and marginalized communities.
“Many Black folks I speak with express their love for this city but are skeptical about whether this city really loves us,” he said. “It is my responsibility and obligation to do whatever is in my power to move the health needle of the Black and other marginalized communities in a positive direction”
Wilson says this year’s Summit, acknowledges the 50-year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Fifty years later, we continue to fight for our rights, which are not only under attack nationally, but locally as well.
One of the goals of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he said, was to deliver on the promise of equal legal standing for Blacks that the Civil War was unable to achieve 100 years earlier.
Yet, at times, it feels as though the country has gone back in time 100 years. Blacks in San Francisco are still struggling economically, experiencing housing instability and unlawful behavior and practices by those who are supposed to protect and serve.
They know that law enforcement engages in stops, searches and harassment of African Americans at a rate than any other group, he said.
The Health Summit usually attracts about 230-250 people each year. Some of the most popular workshops have been discussion of mass incarceration and how public policies impact the lives and health of Black folks.