Black Coalition Hosts Successful Health and Wellness Webinar
Vol.8 Issue 3
Medical panelists from the 2022 Black History Month event, themed "Black Health and Wellness"

A panel of medical professionals held a Zoom webinar for the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE) on Wednesday, February 23rd, in honor of Black History Month. The one-hour event was hosted by the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and FAA’s Southwest Region. Aeronautical Center Director, Michelle Coppedge and Southwest Regional Administrator, Rob Lowe provided opening and closing comments. Eric Harmon, Program Administrator in the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute also served as the event’s emcee. Onekia Smallwood assisted with a video of the presentation of colors. With the theme of the month being "Black Health and Wellness," the impressive panel of Oklahoma physicians discussed topics concerning emotional, occupational, and physical health and well-being. Distinguished panelist members included: Nicole Bernard Washington, DO; Pamela S. Allen, MD; Donna Tyungu, MD; Kibwei McKinney, MD; Phillicia Hawkins, DPT; and Bernard Rhone, DDS. The panelists fielded questions from the virtual audience.

Black History Month helps to recognize the central role and numerous achievements of many African Americans throughout society. It honors the many contributions and legacies that intertwine throughout U.S. History, from activists to civil rights pioneers, while looking at the triumphs and the adversities that have helped to broaden the nation’s consciousness. Each year, the theme for Black History Month is developed by the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH), an organization founded by Carter G. Woodson. This year’s theme explores not just Black Academians, but medical specialists as well. The topic is especially timely, as the second year of the coronavirus global health crisis is upon us.

Gloria Hall sings the Black National Anthem
Screen capture from Black History Month event

As people of a community, members can only become a more prepared and resilient when everyone becomes healthy and strong. This puts greater emphasis on the importance of preventive care along with a positive focus on the body through physical exercise, nutrition, and emotional and mental health. There is a movement toward choosing to act more holistically to better ourselves, our bodies, relationships, communities, and our planet.

At this time in history, every person should have equitable access to healthcare -with everyone receiving the same treatment - regardless of race, ethnicity, or income. Just as young people are encouraged to enter the field of STEM-related careers, this is also a time to expose young people to careers in medicine. A commitment must be made to diversity in order for progress to be made. It’s important for children to have doctors who look they do. Medical professionals should reflect the variety of patients whom they serve. When a patient cannot find providers who resemble them, then their beliefs, culture or other facets of their life may be misunderstood. As a result, they may not receive proper treatment.

Just this year alone, there have been some issues that have served as catalysts for meaningful change:

  • We have our first woman of color sworn in as Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris
  • The youngest poet laureate in U.S. History, Amanda Gorman, age 22 recited "The Hill We Climb"
  • Election of the first black senator to Georgia, Raphel Warnock
  • This administration was the first to formally memorialize the Tulsa Massacre
  • Legislation signed to declare Juneteenth a federal holiday
  • The death of George Floyd and the ability to look at police shootings with transparency and skepticism
  • For a short period of time during the Summer and Fall, there was a record number of Black women elected as mayors in many large cities throughout the U.S.
  • A 14-year-old became the first Black American contestant to win the Scripps Spelling Bee
  • Olympic athletes, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles withdrew from competition to draw greater interest to the need for mental health care
  • The oldest living Park Ranger, Betty Reid Soskin turned 100.
  • Most recently, the U.S. is waiting for the voting-in of the first Black woman, Kentaji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

Our federal government is changing to reflect more of what our society looks like. We now have the first Black Secretary of Defense, the first Black woman to oversee the Office of Management and Budget, the first Black man to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the first Black woman to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the first Black chair of White House Council of Economic Advisors, and a Black Ambassador representing the U.S. at the United Nations.

Every year, the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees continues to educate us on the importance of equity and inclusion, helping to further advance equity within the federal government.

Logo of the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees

Members of the Black History Month Planning Committee are responsible for developing and hosting this event. Members include, Cynthia Work, Sabrina Miller, Ima Jones-Tate, Onekia Smallwood, Gloria Hall, Joseph Smith, Maurice Williams, W. Andrew Henning and Vannice McCoy.

Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal