Local Activist and NAACP Leader Present an Important Townhall

Denton, TX — February 22, 2018 — Willie Hudspeth announced today that he is organizing a ‘townhall’ meeting to bring attention to black infant mortality (BIMR) and maternal morbidity rates throughout North Texas. As a recent study from the University of Texas System revealed, there are wide variations in counties and even zip codes— but sadly, according to the study, black mothers and infants suffer the highest death rates.

The ‘townhall’ meeting will feature three speakers at the leading edge of the societal and medical implications of this public health crisis. Nikia Lawson, founder of The Natural Birthing Project leads an organization that focuses on education, advocacy and support for Moms exhibiting risks for complicated pregnancies with to obtain better outcomes. Talaun Simmons, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Arlington, understands and interprets the data and metrics around this topic. Lindell Singleton, documentary film producer and director, is developing a two-part television series entitled, ‘The_Gap,’ which will explore the eight factors which influence this topic and present a framework for solutions. Singleton, along with Garrett Graham, former adjunct professor at UNT, will screen the trailer for “The_Gap” at the ‘townhall.’

“It is important that we consider the future of Denton County and all of the North Texas region. We must simplify the complexity of health care and improve access as this is essential to mothers, children and families. It’s my belief that what happens to our mothers and children has a direct impact on our future. We need revolutionary ideas and approaches to create a different future,” said Hudspeth.

Location: City of Denton-Police Training Center – 719 East Hickory, Denton, Texas
Date: February 28, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Contact: 323.282.8554


Syed Hassan, candidate for Tarrant County Commissioner (Precinct 2) arranged a townhall meeting in Arlington, Texas to raise awareness around issues of black infant and black maternal mortality. Thanks to Nikkia Lawson and Dr. Talaun Simmons for being a part of this. Extraordinary insight on how this matter is affecting Texans. @Lindel153

Traditionally,  the Hispanic infant mortality rate has been lower than the rate for Black babies.  From this study commissioned by the University of Texas, there are zip codes in San Antonio where the infant mortality rate exceeds 16 deaths for every 1000 live births. The state average is  around six, with the average for black babies hovering around 13 for every 1000 births. The trend should be going in a different direction. With our series, we’re going to shine the light as to why this disparity exists. Watch our sizzle reel. Support The_Gap. @Lindell153

A Community-Based Midwifery Academy

What if — within communities of color — we could build a regionally or nationally accredited midwife training program designed to work with mom’s who potentially could have a problem pregnancy— or fit the data set for having a pre-term birth?

The midwives could be supervised from a central organization or a hospital within the county or through the county health department. There could even be a requirement that every third year midwives would have a re-examination and additional instruction in state-of-the-art obstetrics and new techniques in matters which influenced their work.

The needs of black communities— as it relates to health — are often ignored as part of the public discourse. We can move people from sickness to wellness and use health as an extension of social justice. Facing the discrepancy in BIMR is part of this.

Having the midwife training programs in communities with close proximity to hospitals offer the possibility of additional staff support from medical providers. Is it possible that we could have a regional or statewide effort to create the training of midwives—within communities? With an infant mortality rate for black infants that is double than for other races, we have to do something. The reality is that thousands Black infants will die this year and next year. The infants cannot help themselves. The adults have to act. It is, therefore, my belief that reform is urgently needed. The status quo is a failure. The metrics fully present the story.


A Reformation?

The exceedingly high death rate of Black infants—as compared to other races — must claim the attention of physicians, philanthropists, religious leaders, county health officers and other community-based stakeholders. We will continue to identify the causes and factors responsible for the destruction of black infant lives—leading to deaths before a first birthday— and face them.

In our belief, ‘better parents are needed to have better children.’ I am, by definition, expanding the traditional definition of ‘parent’ away from father, mother or grandparent to include members of the community who can— and should —take a demonstrable interest in the lives of black infants.

I believe there must be a general awakening to this public health crisis and each of us accept responsibility to help black infants get to their first birthday. From that point, let us then look to firmly establish systems that give black infants chance to make the most of their lives.

Do we need a reformation? I say, ‘yes!’