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Date published: March 1, 2024

Black History Month Inspires an Ongoing Call to Action 
April lecture to feature the transformational work of Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha in Black maternal health  

Black History Month, celebrated in February each year, is a time when we celebrate Black Americans, their achievements, and their pivotal role in our nation’s history. While this formal month of recognition is indeed important, it is essential to embrace this spirit and continue to honor, celebrate, and extend gratitude throughout every month of the year. But, perhaps one of the best ways to honor the prominence of Black Americans and their achievements is through action.

The Department of Medicine recognizes that inclusive, culturally sensitive clinical, research, and educational practices are essential to improving the health of our faculty, staff, trainees, and local and global communities. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core principles that are woven into the fabric of each of our mission areas. Our department-based working groups have developed and are implementing action items with targeted benchmarks to monitor efficacy focused on our impact on culture and bias, education, research, leadership and career development, recruitment, gender equity, and parental leave. Programs such as the Department of Medicine-led Unconscious Bias Training explore important topics including implicit and explicit bias, microaggressions, disparities in healthcare and research, and steps we can take to create shifts and effect change. Our Internal Medicine Residency Diversity Action Council, established to encourage residents to challenge racism and health inequities in medicine, gives lectures, holds journal clubs, and has skillfully led two Medical Grand Rounds Presentations since 2022, including the most recent one in fall 2023, which focused on redlining and its effects on health disparities.

Ndidiamaka Amutah-OnukaghaComing this spring, on April 11 at noon, the UMass Chan community, including the Departments of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Family Medicine, will host Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, PhD, MPH, as the honored guest speaker for the inaugural Health Equity Distinguished Lecture Series of the Collaborative in Health Equity (CHE) at UMass Chan Medical School. She will speak on the topic of "Black Women and Maternal Health Disparities: Addressing the Role of Racism." Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is the Julia A. Okoro Professor of Black Maternal Health in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. She is also the inaugural Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Public Health and Professional Degree Programs. In 2022, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha founded the Center for Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice (CBMHRJ) at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Amutah-Onukagha's lecture will be held in the Albert Sherman Center Auditorium. Please save the date for this important event!

As the calendar turns over to March and each month throughout the year, we hope you will join us in continuing to celebrate Black history and honor the legacies of prominent members of our nation’s history through ongoing engagement, conversation, action, and advocacy.