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40 Years

40 Years of Working For Health Equality for Black Women


That’s how Byllye Y. Avery, our founder, described that first conference at Spelman College in 1983 in Atlanta, Ga., which birthed the National Black Women’s Health Project (The Project). The lasting legacy of that conference and the organization that sprung from it is due to the empowerment of countless Black women.

The Project is now called the Black Women’s Health Imperative.

Since inception, the organization has been at the forefront of women’s health issues, through comprehensive public education initiatives that promote overall wellness of Black women. In 1990, BWHI opened a public education and policy office in Washington, D.C., the seat of policy and advocacy for reproductive rights. But, it was not until 1995 that the board realized the opportunity to become better positioned to address the massive challenges of racial and gender-based health disparities affecting Black women. A decision was made to establish a national presence in the nation’s capital and relocate our national headquarters to Washington, D.C.

Jocelyn Elders

With a broadened structure of national and local affiliated organizations and a change in name to the Black Women’s Health Imperative in 2002, the Imperative instituted aggressive national programs in health policy, education, research, knowledge and leadership development and communications to save and extend the lives of Black women. Presently, the organization continues to be dedicated to promoting physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being for the nation’s 19.5 million African American women and girls.