African America History Month African America History Month
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

February is African American History Month

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on February 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.

This year’s theme is, "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington", as 2013 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

Despite great improvements in the overall health of the nation, health disparities remain widespread among members of racial and ethnic minority populations. Structural inequalities–from disparities in education and health care to the vicious cycle of poverty–still pose enormous hurdles for black communities across America. The health disparities between African Americans and other racial groups are striking and are apparent in life expectancy, death rates, infant mortality, and other measures of health status. Every year, heart disease takes the lives of over half a million Americans, and it remains the leading cause of death in the United States. African Americans have the largest age-adjusted death rates due to heart disease and stroke.

US Census Bureau, Facts for Features:
Black (African-American) History Month: February 2013

White House Presidential Proclamations:
National African American History Month, February 2013,
American Heart Month, February 2013

Million Hearts

Americans suffer more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes each year. Every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease—that’s 815,000 Americans each year, or 1 in every 3 deaths.

We’re all at risk for heart disease and stroke. People of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities are affected. However, certain groups—including African Americans and older individuals are at higher risk than others.

African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, and heart attack and stroke deaths than White adults. Individuals living below the federal poverty level are more likely to have high blood pressure compared with those living at the highest level of income. Million Hearts™ initiative is a national public-private partnership that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by using clinical and community prevention to improve the ABCS:

Aspirin as appropriate Blood pressure control Cholesterol management Smoking cessation

In 2013, CDC and other public and private partners will continue a strong focus on helping Americans get their blood pressure under control by:

increasing collaboration between clinical medicine and public health spreading clinicians’ best practices raising awareness of the importance of home blood pressure monitoring promoting new applications (apps) for assessing risk factors like high blood pressure releasing new Spanish-language materials

Be One in a Million Hearts! See how your actions can make a positive difference. A Million Hearts begins with you!