Maya Angelou and health disparities

Author and activist Maya Angelou died yesterday at the age of 86. Ms. Angelou made a difference at UAB through her support of research related to minority health and health disparities. The press release that follows tells more of the story.

Release date: May 28, 2014

UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Center Marks Passing of Literary Giant Maya Angelou and Her Important Contributions to the Center’s Mission

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Maya Angelou, 86, esteemed author, poetess, and defender of equality, education and justice for all, died at her home Wednesday. Her loss was felt profoundly nationwide, and not least of all at the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Center (MHRC), where Angelou had been a special celebrity guest at two functions to help raise funds for MHRC and UAB HealthSmart.

In September 2009, Angelou was the featured guest at the fifth annual UAB MHRC Gala—billed as “An Evening with Maya Angelou”—where she delivered a poetry reading to a sellout crowd. Her powerful presence helped raise both awareness to the MHRC’s causes and funds to help the center achieve its mission, according to UAB MHRC Director Dr. Mona Fouad.

“The MHRC and its staff are translating scientific discoveries into service for those who need it most,” Fouad said following the 2009 event. “Through staff and volunteers, we have reached thousands of women in urban and rural communities, conducted health screenings, established walking teams, and gone into schools with nutrition and physical activity programs for underserved children. Those are just some of the things that we are most proud of and want to continue to do.”

The following year, Angelou headlined the inaugural UAB MHRC fundraising luncheon, which was themed, “Rewriting Her Story: Put Yourself in Her Shoes.” The event attracted 650 people, and its particular aim was to help minority women in the region overcome health disparities.

Angelou is considered one of the most respected writers in modern American literature. She was the second poet to deliver an original work at a presidential inauguration, reading On the Pulse of the Morning at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremony in 1993. Angelou is the author of 30 best-sellers, is a Pulitzer Prize winner and has been nominated several times for a National Book Award. Among her most famous works is her series of autobiographies, which includes I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, nominated for a National Book Award in 1970.

“Angelou will be sorely missed by our center and our community as a whole,” Fouad said Wednesday. “We are deeply grateful to her for believing in our cause and how generously she gave her time to make an impact.”

About the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC)
The UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) is a comprehensive research, training, and outreach center with a mission to eliminate the health disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities and underserved populations locally, regionally, and nationally. The UAB MHRC is a designated Center of Excellence in Health Disparities Research by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and a UAB University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Center. For more information visit


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