Too many people of color are dying of violence. Homicides ranks as a top cause of premature death among African-Americans in our region, eclipsed only by cancer and heart disease.

Nearly 30% of Latinos and 23% of blacks in our region said in a recent survey that they have experienced domestic violence, as compared to 16% of whites. Additionally, 40% of blacks and 36% of Latinos in our region have said they have experienced street violence, as compared to 18% of whites.

That’s why the African American Health Coalition with the Latino Health Coalition is hosting the “Speak Life!” Health Equity Conference from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 4 at the Rochester Riverside Hotel to explore this critical public health issue. Registration will take place from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and the conference runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event includes a light breakfast and lunch.

Hear from prominent community leaders and experts on youth violence, intimate partner violence and violence related to substance use and mental health. Following dynamic speakers and panel discussions, there will be time for participants to interact. The goal of the program is to build awareness of the issues and provide opportunity for discussion. The conference seeks to understand the health inequities that exist and the role residents can play in improving the well-being of our community.

Although this is the first Speak Life! Conference, the event builds on the five-year success of the Faith and Medicine – Working Together to Eliminate Health Disparities conferences.

Event speakers include Dr. Irshad Altheimer of Rochester Institute of Technology, who will give the opening address and School Resource Officer Moses Robinson of the Rochester Police Department, who will give the luncheon keynote address. Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle of Colgate Rochester-Crozer Divinity School will serve as the program facilitator. Wade Norwood of Common Ground Health will talk about the data behind the disparity of violence in our community.

Melanie Funchess of the Mental Health Association and Rev. Dan Butler of the St. John Missionary Baptist Church will discuss the impact of violence on mental health and substance use with Moderator Rev. Sebrone Johnson of The Greater Harvest Church.

Sady Fischer of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dr. Noelle M. St. Vil of the University of Buffalo School of Social Work, and Anabel Quiroz of Willow Domestic Violence Center, will talk about intimate partner violence with Moderator Dr. Mary Bisbee-Burrows of the New York State Department of Health.

Rochester City Council member Willie Lightfoot, Monroe County legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, Chiara Smith, an anti-violence outreach worker trainer, and two local youth from Pathways to Peace will discuss youth and violence with Moderator Victor T. Saunders of the Center for Youth.

Event sponsors are Common Ground Health and Jordan Health with support from Trillium Health, University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Black Physician’s Network, WDKX, Fidelis Care, Finger Lakes Performing Provider System, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area, St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, Women’s Initiative Supporting Health – Transitions Clinic at the University of Rochester, Willow, Ibero, Planned Parenthood and the University of Rochester Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.




Sat, May 4, 2019, 8:00 AM EDT


Rochester Riverside Hotel
120 East Main Street
Rochester, NY 14604

Register here.