According to the American Heart Association, more than 50% of Black women over the age of 20 have high blood pressure. In recognition of World Hypertension Day, the national Release the Pressure (RTP) Coalition – which includes the American Medical Association (AMA), AMA Foundation, American Heart Association, Association of Black Cardiologists, National Medical Association, and Minority Health Institute – hosted the 2022 We Derby with Heart Scholarship Brunch. Held in collaboration with the Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.™, Hortense B. Perry Foundation, EBONY, Ad Council, iHeartRadio, Fashion Fair, tgin, and Àuda.B, the event used the Kentucky Derby's "tradition of fashion, beauty, and wellness" to empower Black women to unapologetically prioritize self-care and their heart health.

We Derby with Heart was streamed on the EBONY Facebook page on May 17 at 8 p.m. ET. Live and virtual attendees are encouraged to take the RTP heart health pledge.

Image: RTP

“Heart disease is wiping out precious Black lives, and the COVID-19 pandemic has helped shed even more light on the devastating impact of cardiovascular disease in Black communities,” Stephanie Johnson, Vice President of Communications and Product Strategies for Improving Health Outcomes at the American Medical Association, explained in a press statement. “Through our RTP grassroots work, we aim to provide local support in select communities over the next year in an attempt to build a national scalable and sustainable chronic disease prevention model that is fueled by local activists and supported nationally by the RTP campaign.”

Image: Taris Smith Photography

The event, which is held annually by the Eta Omega Chapter, served a dual purpose as proceeds are used to provide scholarship funds to students pursuing post-secondary education.

“This collaboration is so special and so needed,” said Eta Omega Chapter President Lynetta Crawford. “The support from the RTP Coalition allows us to give more to students in need of financial aid to pursue their dreams of higher education.”

Located at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, and moderated by RTP leader Stephanie Johnson of the AMA, the event included a fashion show co-hosted by celebrity hairstylist Nicole Mangrum and featured heart health survivors, an immersive dance performance by Olivia Bowman-Jackson, and the Heart Table discussion. The Heart Table panel featured Dr. Kelly C. McCants, Cardiologist & Executive Director of Norton Healthcare; EBONY CEO Michele Thornton Ghee; Desiree Rogers, CEO & Co-Owner of Fashion Fair; Dr. Rachel Villanueva, President of the National Medical Association; Jasmyne McCoy, International 2nd Vice President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.™; and Aris Singleton, Managing Partner of tgin; who helped to highlight how Black-owned beauty brands, lifestyle brands, health experts, and community organizations are joining forces to prioritize the health and wellness of the Black community. Also, during the event, Henry Schein donated validated blood pressure (BP) measurement devices to all in-person attendees – thanks to RTP Coalition partner, the AMA Foundation – marking the beginning of RTP’s long-term strategy to make available validated BP devices to 300K Black adults across the U.S. by 2027.

The Release the Pressure Coalition is a joint initiative formed to reduce heart health disparities among Black women.

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To view the We Derby with Heart livestream, click here