African-American Health African-American Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

African American History

Learn about African American History Month, see examples of health disparities, and learn about the Million Hearts initiative and other activities that address the health and well-being of African American Populations.

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, "Black Women in American Culture and History," invites us to pay special tribute to the role African American women have played in shaping the character of our Nation — often in the face of both racial and gender discrimination.

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

Million Hearts

Million Hearts is a national initiative launched by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

HHS 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, older individuals, and women— are at higher risk than others

. African Americans and individuals with low incomes are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke than their White and high-income peers