Dear colleagues,

April 11-17 marks the third annual observation of Black Maternal Health Week, which raises awareness of the maternal health disparity faced by Black women in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

Among other steps we are taking to help address this disparity, the School of Medicine has partnered with 4Kira4Moms, a nonprofit that advocates for maternal health equity. Charles Johnson founded the organization after his wife, Kira, died from a hemorrhage following the birth of their second son via cesarean section at a hospital in Los Angeles.

Last year, Johnson visited the MCV Campus to share his family’s story and lead a review and discussion of his wife’s case with first- and second-year medical students. He is also working with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to develop educational materials on the Black maternal health crisis for physicians, students and trainees.

“I am extremely proud to partner with VCU School of Medicine,” Johnson said. “I truly believe that this work will shape the minds and hearts of medical students for generations to come.”

Honoring Black Maternal Health Week

To learn more about Black maternal health, view the upcoming events below:

“Birthing Justice” Film Screening

Tuesday, April 11, 5:30 - 9 p.m.
Henrico Theatre (305 E. Nine Mile Rd.)

The School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the VCU Office of Health Equity and Birth in Color RVA, a nonprofit that promotes maternal health and reproductive justice, will host a screening and panel discussion of the film, “Birthing Justice.”

The film explores the Black maternal health crisis by sharing the experiences and challenges faced by Black women and examining the systems that determine disparate rates of mortality.

Register for this film screening on Eventbrite »

“Black Maternal Health: Advocating for Maternal Health Equity

Friday, April 14, noon - 1 p.m.
MMEC Building (Room 2/3-200) and Zoom

The School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Medical Students for Maternal Health Equity, a newly formed student organization that promotes maternal health equity, will host a roundtable discussion on maternal health advocacy featuring Christine Issacs, M.D., a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Register for this roundtable discussion »

We are immensely grateful for the dedication of our colleagues and partners who are working to end the Black maternal health crisis, and we strongly encourage you to participate in and share these Black Maternal Health Week events with your colleagues.


David Chelmow, M.D.
Interim Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Interim Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

Kevin Harris, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion