Why Black History Month Matters

The political climate over the past few years have brought to fore the still present vestiges of a U.S. culture steeped in slavery and segregation. The unbridled hatred and racism recently displayed are painful reminders of a time when blacks were not even considered human. Too often, black people in this country, particularly descendants of slavery, are told to “get over it – that was a long time ago”. While current events remind us that it was NOT that long ago, that in fact, in my life time, legalized segregation was a part of U.S. life, we often don’t think about how the past and present traumas impact the health and well-being of populations. Black people in the U.S. have the heaviest disease burden, worse outcomes and highest mortality rates for almost every disease across the board. In 2017, the Winston Salem Urban League highlighted local health disparities in its landmark report , State of Black Winston Salem. These data were echoed in last month's newsletter related to cancer disparities. Black history month is not only a time to celebrate accomplishments of famous people, but to hear from those whose voices may have been silenced or overlooked. It is vital to remember that the history of blacks in this country greatly impacts their physical and financial well-being today. This month, we are delighted to share a bit of Winston Salem’s black history and invite you to join us on March 26th to hear directly from our East Winston community how this history has impacted their access to health care. #BlackHealthMatters
The History of East Winston
In the 1960s, East Winston was one of the largest communities in Winston-Salem. With a population of approximately 34,000 people – more than a fourth of the city’s total population—and an 81% black population, the neighborhood bore vibrant middle-class homes and successful businesses. Once a majority white neighborhood, the expansion of Reynolds Tobacco factories, and job vacancies from white servicemen during World War I led to the exponential growth of the black community in East Winston.

In the sixty years since, the East Winston neighborhood, formerly home to community pillars like hospitals and government buildings, looks vastly different. As a result of disinvestment and failed urban renewal programs, the once bustling neighborhood retains little vestige as the hallmark of innovation in Winston-Salem (L. Oppermann, 1993, pg. 44). Plans to revitalize and invest in East Winston have often unaccounted for and ignored community based assets that exist there, namely the residents. As a community, East Winston is still rich in community organizations such as churches and nonprofits, which are tasked with addressing the community’s most pressing challenges including: poverty, crime, lack of jobs, and food insecurity—all contributing factors to worse social determinants of health.

Oppermann, Langdon (1993) Winston Salem’s African American Neighborhoods, 1870-1959
Community Health Assessment
With a mission of ensuring that everyone has access to quality cancer care, and the acknowledgment of increasing cancer incidence rates for African Americans both nationally and locally, the Office of Cancer Health Equity at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center partnered with Gramercy Research Group to complete a cancer needs assessment in East Winston. Given the harmful history of segregation, the stain of a city steeped in a practice of eugenics , and the closure of the Slater Hospital that served blacks followed by the exclusion of black physicians at other local hospitals , we sought to hear from East Winston residents, to capture, in their unique voices, their perceptions of healthcare in Winston Salem and to see how those perceptions impacted their decision regarding cancer care. Gramercy Research Group hosted focus groups with patients, caregivers, and stakeholders who live in or serve residents in the three primary zip codes that comprise East Winston: 27101, 27105, and 27107. In-depth, one-on-one interviews were also conducted with medical providers who treat cancer in the local community. The interview guides developed by our collective team addressed themes related to general and cancer-specific healthcare in the community, and experiences and beliefs about clinical trials and biospecimen repositories.

On March 26, 2019, at 6PM , j oin the Office of Cancer Health Equity and Gramercy Research Group as we hear and discuss findings from our African American Community Assessment in East Winston and collectively strategize forthcoming solutions. Dinner will be provided. Please save the date and be on the lookout for more information. We hope you can join us! 

Meet Our New Staff Members
Emily Britt, MSW
Rural Patient Navigator
Emily Britt is the Rural Patient Navigator in the Office of Cancer Equity. Emily provides support to rural patients and caregivers through a psychosocial lens in navigating the complex medical system in a culturally competent manner. Emily empowers patients to enhance their quality of life during diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Emily also serves as a community liaison and works closely with community-based providers to address community and educational needs. Emily received her BA in Psychology from Appalachian State University and her MSW from the University of North Carolina- Charlotte. 
Aeriel Diaz, BS, CHES
Community Health Educator
Aeriel Diaz serves as the Community Health Educator in the Office of Cancer Health Equity. In her role Aeriel cultivates partnerships through community outreach activities and implementation of educational and tobacco cessation programs within the underserved population. She is passionate about helping others make lifestyle changes to prevent serious health issues. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist, with over 5 years of experience in Health Education, specifically in Tobacco Cessation and Condition Management. Aeriel has a BS in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education. 
Camry Wilborn, MA
Community Outreach Coordinator
Camry Wilborn is the Community Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Cancer Health Equity. In her role, Camry is the primary liaison for the community and works to strategize and implement all of the office’s engagement initiatives- both in person and digitally. She also coordinates all of our internal and external events. As a native of Winston Salem, Camry is devoted to asset based community development, and enjoys sharing resources to make our community stronger. She holds a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies from Wake Forest University, and a MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. 
Upcoming Events
March 9: Get Your Rear in Gear 2019

Quarry Park
1790 Quarry Rd 27107
Winston Salem, NC

Registration (Until March 6th): Adults: $25, Youth (12 and under): $15, Kids Fun Run (10 and under): $15 + processing fee
Staff Spotlight
Director, Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD Wins National Web MD Health Heroes Award

Dr. Karen Winkfield, director of the Office of Cancer Health Equity, was awarded the Web MD Health Heroes Award for her excellence in advocacy. The award honors people improving cancer care and research for everyone.

Congratulations Dr. Winkfield!

Next Newsletter
Our next newsletter will focus on the Human Papillomavrius (HPV), its connection to many different types of cancer and prevention .

If you would like to volunteer with our office please email us at: 

The Office of Cancer Health Equity Team

Director: Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD
Assistant Director: Jimmy Ruiz, MD
Assistant Director: Kathryn Weaver, PhD, MPH
Program Manager: Carla Strom, MLA
Hispanic Patient Navigator: Maria Alejandra Combs, JD, OPN-CG
Rural Patient Navigator: Emily Britt, MSW
Community Health Educator, Aeriel Diaz, BA, CHES
Community Research Coordinator: Kelsey Shore, CCRC
Community Outreach Coordinator: Camry Wilborn, MA
P: 336-713-3665