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Black History and Community Health

The month of February is dedicated to a very special minority group in the United States, African Americans. Their amount of contribution to the growth and development of St. Joseph, Missouri as well as our country is unbelievable. This month we are able to recognize individuals from St. Joseph and advocates across America for their contributions from art, entertainment to health and well-being.


St. Joseph has a little black history itself, especially in music. One of the best known musicians, the “Father of the Tenor Sax,” Coleman Randolph Hawkins was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on November 21, 1904. This was also the town where in 1968 Etta Green Cox became the first African American to be crowned Miss St. Joseph. She also later became a well-known Jazz singer, now resides in Michigan. Many people don’t know that St. Joseph was the starting point of many successful people. It is time to recognize and learn from the hard work and lessons that these individuals have left us with. It’s difficult to condense the many important historical moments into one month, and in no way will one blog express the beauty and innovation our black colleagues, friends and neighbors have given this city and country.


The Community Health Center Movement has often times been connected with the Civil Rights Movement. Important visionaries in community health were/are African Americans, and it’s important to recognize their achievements.


All too familiar were the millions of Americans in the 1960’s who lacked access to basic healthcare in not only impoverished inner-city neighborhoods, but in the rural neighborhoods we are more accustomed to in Northwest Missouri. Civil Rights activists like H. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson founded America’s first community health centers and now over 50 years later health centers like Northwest Health and 9,000 other sites in the United States serve over 24 million patients.


To the pioneers who have focused on community health we say thank you.


We cannot forget the efforts and suffering African American individuals endured in the past so that we can strive and work towards a better future of health and happiness today.

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