The Black Men’s Health Equity Conference is significant; let me explain

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Rep. Christopher M. Bell

By Rep. Christopher Bell

JA Guest Writer

Now, more than ever, it is necessary that we speak to the unique challenges facing Black men in Mississippi.  The Black Men’s Health Equity Conference is designed to address and dismantle some of the most pressing issues that impact Black men in the Magnolia State. Themed “Black Men Matter: Uplifting, Educating, and Healing Black Men in Mississippi,” this men’s conference will offer a space for Black men to share their stories of tragedy, triumph, transformation, and truth.  I commend Dr. Sandra Melvin, CEO of the Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health; the Black Men’s Health Equity Council; and Charles Taylor, executive director of the MS-NAACP for conceiving and supporting a movement that undergirds personal growth and collective action among Black men.  

This year’s conference has several major highlights.  Dr. Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Central Park Five, will deliver the morning keynote address.  In 1989, Salaam was one of five Black and Latino youth wrongfully accused and convicted in the Central Park (New York) jogger case.  During his trial, former President Donald Trump purchased advertisements in several New York City newspapers requesting the five youths receive the death penalty.  The five were exonerated in 2002.  Since his exoneration, Salaam has become a councilman in New York City.  Quite conversely, former President Donald Trump was indicted and found guilty of thirty-four felonies in New York City.

Several local leaders will be honored during the conference awards luncheon.  The honorees are business owners, activists, and faith leaders who work at the grassroots level to improve the lives of Black men in Mississippi. Their efforts often go unnoticed, but they are quietly and consistently improving their communities. These men deserve honor and recognition.  Civil rights veteran and renowned attorney Edward Blackmon is the luncheon keynote speaker.  Blackmon is a legal pioneer whose passion for health equity, justice, and civil rights led him to challenge racial inequalities in Mississippi through groundbreaking lawsuits.  I am confident that Salaam and Blackmon’s stories of resilience and overcoming adversity will inspire attendees to stay true to themselves and never give up.  

In addition to these powerful speakers, concurrent sessions on mental wellness, heart health, prostate cancer, tobacco cessation, and economic equity will offer a comprehensive understanding of the factors that negatively impact Black men’s health while offering practical strategies for improvement.  Honestly, this gathering is more than a men’s conference.  It is a much-needed platform for health, healing, and hope. By empowering Black men to speak truth to power, to take control of their wellness, and to advocate for their basic human rights, our society will improve as a collective. 

The upliftment, education, and healing of our community are foundational.  Therefore, it must begin within.  That is why 250 like-minded individuals will converge at the Hilton Jackson at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 29.  Brothers, this conference is a gift to us and those who love us.  For more information about the Black Men’s Health Equity Council or the Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health, visit 

Christopher M. Bell is a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.  He is also the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health.

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The Black Men’s Health Equity Conference is significant; let me explain

By Jackson Advocate News Service
June 25, 2024