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Tulsa Health Department Teams Up With Be Well Community Development Corporation to Host Second Annual ‘Blood At The Roots’ Conference

Issues of Health Equity: The New Civil Rights Movement

TULSA, OKLA [March 25, 2024] – The Tulsa Health Department and Be Well Community Development Corporation (Be Well CDC) are hosting a two-day conference to highlight systems-level changes required for true health equity. The 2nd Annual Blood at the Roots Conference will take place on April 11-12 at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, 700 N. Greenwood Ave.

The conference, which was attended by more than 250 people last year, will feature local and national experts in the fields of health equity and social justice to assist attendees with developing strategies to strengthen efforts to create sustained change in their communities. The conference title is a nod to the Abel Meeropol poem, “Strange Fruit,” made famous by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. 

“The Tulsa Health Department is committed to the constant pursuit of a healthier Tulsa County. Unfortunately, many community residents face barriers to optimal health that are rooted in systemic racism and oppression,” said THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart. “THD is proud to work alongside the Be Well Community Development Corporation to raise awareness, foster dialogue, and enact meaningful change to improve the quality of life for marginalized communities.”

The American Public Health Association defines “health equity” as the opportunity for everyone to attain their highest level of health. THD collaborates with many local partners to address health equity issues and the social determinants of health. These determinants of health include the conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

“This conference will build upon the momentum that is transforming Tulsa into a health equity hub,” said THD Associate Executive Director and Be Well CDC Board Chair Reggie Ivey. “Just as the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s saw many hard-won successes for Black Americans, the ‘new’ civil rights movement is focused on dismantling the systems that create and maintain disadvantages for people of color and other minorities. Our collective partnership with local non-profit organizations, health care systems, municipalities, social service agencies and the business community continues to demonstrate the power of working together toward a common goal of a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health.”

Featured keynote speakers include best-selling author Risha Grant, internationally known anti-racism activist and diversity educator Jane Elliott, and author and criminal justice advocate Kemba Smith. Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from local and regional experts through a variety of panel discussions and break-out sessions.

Tickets are $150 for the two-day conference and there is a student rate available.

“I hope this conference will inspire those who are dedicated to this work every day, reminding them of their purpose and motivating them to advocate for justice and drive positive change,” said THD Health Equity Director Kandy Whitley-White.

Continuing education experience credits are available for licensed clinical social workers and certified health education specialists. Conference topics include:

  • Addressing Health Equity Through Community Initiatives
  • The Root Causes of Poor Health in BIPOC Communities
  • Why is the Education System Failing BIPOC Communities? Impact now and in the future.
  • A Criminal Justice System that is Not “Just”

A pre-conference event will take place on April 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Langston University Tulsa, 914 N Greenwood Ave. The pre-conference keynote speaker is Dr. Dawn Emerick and she will be speaking about Trauma-informed Leadership: Collective Trauma and the Workplace. The pre-conference is free for all to attend.

The conference is made possible through the support of generous sponsors including the Birth Through Eight Strategy for Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Oklahoma Complete Health, ProsperOK, and the Terence Crutcher Foundation.

For more information about the Tulsa Health Department, please call 918-582-9355 or visit our About Us page.

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