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PRESS RELEASE: Catching our Breath

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

AMPLIFY! (African American Statewide Coordinating Center) hosted our first virtual Health-a-Thon in March. This event was AMPLIFY’s answer to ongoing health disparities among the African American community during COVID-19 and how they are related to tobacco. 

“It was important for our organization to connect with the community at large during the stay at home order. We know that our community disproportionately suffers from tobacco related disparities, chronic diseases and needs mental health support. All of these issues can be exacerbated due to these unprecedented times.”

Y’Lonn Burris, Project Coordinator of AMPLIFY!

The virtual event was filled with vital and practical information to help African American families thrive in the age of COVID-19. Over the course of the day, we were joined by participants from across the state who engaged with our wellness and spiritual based programming. We collaborated with the faith-based community, public health professionals and entrepreneurs to bring wellness, laughter, and renewed hope. 

Baba Greg Hodge opened our event with an ancestral Libation. Dr. Valerie Yerger of The LOOP and Berkeley Bay Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., led a restorative deep breathing exercise. DJ Yaddos got participants up and grooving to R&B classics! Singers, Poets, African Drummers and Comedians shared their perspective of COVID-19 and the tobacco industry’s pernicious targeting of the African American community. African American Tobacco Leadership Control Council (AATCLC) Co-Founders Carol McGruder and Dr. Phil Gardiner gave us important information about tobacco control and answered time sensitive questions. 

Although all are susceptible to COVID-19, the virus is demonstrating how long standing health disparities, lack of access to healthy dwellings and resources are impacting the black community nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that mortality rates for the Black/African Americans population that contract COVID-19 is significantly higher than other backgrounds. Current data from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Smoking Cessation Leadership Center suggests 18.3 % of African American adults participate in tobacco-related behavior. Smoke inhalation via smoking or vaping increases susceptibility to poor health outcomes and COVID-19. 

Lastly our call to action encouraged participants to participate in the 2020 census, and register to vote as we are in a critical election year. The free event was in collaboration with the African American Tobacco Leadership Control Council (AATCLC). You can find a recording of the event here:


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