Celebrate African American History Month!
Celebrate 30 Years of Advancing Health Equity! Learn about the Million Hearts initiative and the ABCs, and link to information and activities that address the health and well-being of African American populations in the United States.
February is African American History Month!
To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. First celebrated in 1926, the week was expanded into Black History Month in 1976 as part of the nation's bicentennial.
This year's theme is, "A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture". The year 2015 marks the 30th Anniversary of the 1985 Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Black and Minority Health, a landmark eight-volume report, known as the Heckler Report, documenting the extent of health disparities affecting Americans of color and recommending action steps for the nation to address these disparities.
30th Anniversary of the Heckler Report
After years of observing poorer health for Blacks and other minorities in comparison to Whites, the Secretary of HHS, Margaret Heckler, commissioned a powerful task force in 1984 to describe these health results more fully and to consider what the federal government could do to address them. The Secretary released the Task Force's report in October, 1985, making this the first time that the federal government provided a national picture of the health of racial and ethnic minorities. Since the publication of the Heckler Report, we are better able to describe more fully the health of all Americans.
For More Information:
U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features
Black (African-American) History Month: February 2015
White House Presidential Proclamations:
National African American History Month, February 2015
American Heart Month, February 2015
African Americans are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Every year, Americans suffer more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes.
Every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease—that's nearly 800,000 Americans each year, or 1 in every 3 deaths.
Together, heart disease and stroke are among the most widespread and costly health problems facing the nation today, accounting for more than $312.6 billion in health care expenditures and lost productivity annually—and these costs are rising. On a personal level, families who experience heart disease or stroke not only have to deal with medical bills but also lost wages and the real potential of a decreased standard of living.
We're all at risk for heart disease and stroke. People of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities are affected. However, certain groups—including African Americans and older individuals are at higher risk than others.
Nearly half of all African American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke in the United States. About 2 out of every 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, and less than half of them have it under control. African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), and heart attack and stroke deaths than white adults. Individuals living below the federal poverty level are more likely to have high blood pressure compared with those living at the highest level of income.
Follow the ABCs to reduce your risk.
Follow the ABCS
You can reduce your risk and improve your heart health by following the ABCS:
- A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.
- B: Control your blood pressure.
- C: Manage your cholesterol.
- S: Don´t smoke.
Million Hearts™ initiative is a national public-private partnership that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by using clinical and community prevention to improve the ABCS.
For more information, visit the following CDC and HHS Web sites:
- CDC, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
- CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
CDC Health Disparities & Inqualities Report, 2013
CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report (CHDIR)
The CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report - United States, 2013 (CHDIR) is important for encouraging action and facilitating accountability to reduce modifiable disparities by using interventions that are effective and scalable. The report also underscores the need for more consistent data on population characteristics that have often been lacking in health surveys such as disability status and sexual orientation.
For examples of some important health disparities affecting the African American population reported in the CHDIR, see the Black or African American Populations web page.
- CDC's Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (OMHHE)
- Black or African American Populations
- CDC Feature: African American History
- FastStats - Health of Black or African American non-Hispanic Population
- Quick Stats - Infant mortality Rates, by Race & Hispanic Ethnicity of Mother – U.S., 2000, 2005, 2010
- Health, United States, 2013 - Black or African American Population
- Sociodemographic Maps - Blacks
- Breast Cancer Vital Signs
- Heart Disease
- Violence Prevention
- Women's Health
- HIV Among Youth in the U.S. Vital Signs
- National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ~ February 7th
- Health Disparities in HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, & TB: African Americans/Blacks
- HIV Among African Americans
Learn more to reduce your family’s risk.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
Office of Minority Health (OMH)
- National Black History Month - February
- African American Profile
- Minority Women's Health - African Americans
Other Federal Government
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, January 19, 2015
- National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Week, September 21-27, 2014
- White House Executive Order 13532 Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) [203 KB]
- The Heart Truth A National Awareness Campaign for Women about Heart Disease
- Let's Move America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids
- The Black Population: 2010 [9.74MB]
U.S. Census Brief
- Page last reviewed: February 9, 2015
- Page last updated: February 9, 2015
- Content source:
- Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs