37th (!!!) annual Gillings School Minority Health Conference
Our students did it again: they surpassed all previous records of attendance and participation for the 37th annual Minority Health Conference. More than 800 people participated in person at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, with nearly 2,000 more virtual participants at three partner conferences and 48 different group viewing sites, including in Canada and Mexico.
Presented by the School’s Minority Student Caucus, it’s the longest-running student-led health conference in the U.S. Every year, teams of Gillings students agree to serve on the planning committee, which includes eight subcommittees, and they do it all. In the process, they reach out across the School, University, surrounding communities and far beyond.
Below are photos of some planning committee members and of the crowd before the opening session Friday morning.
This year’s theme, “In Solidarity: The Role of Public Health in Social Justice,” was especially appropriate and poignant in light of the goals for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Flint water crisis (which is really a public health crisis) and a presidential campaign in which many candidates have been noticeably silent about issues of inequity and social justice. Unlike presidential candidates, our students do not lack vision or the willingness to confront social ills in this country.
Keynote speaker—words that matter
The first keynote speaker, Crystallee Crain, PhD, professor, advocate and activist, made us think about so many things, including fairness, social justice and even whether minority continues to be a viable word in America today. It’s impossible to listen to her without questioning many of one’s assumptions about race and justice. That Dr. Crain grew up in Flint, Michigan—a city that has come to symbolize the many ways that injustice harms the poor and exacts its price on the young and the unborn—made her remarks that much more poignant. Dr. Crain’s talk was moving, awesome and at some points even painfully sad. (To view the webcast, click here.)
Kudos to our students for having the courage to examine difficult topics with the goal of constructive action. Barbara