THE BLOG

How Putting One Foot in Front of the Other Is Saving the African-American Community

05/28/2015 02:36 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2016

"One in two African-American girls born in the year 2000 will get diabetes if something doesn't change," says Morgan Dixon, co-founder of GirlTrek. "That's absolutely not acceptable on our watch."

Statistics like that, as well as sobering data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reporting that 80 percent of African-American women are obese or clinically overweight, are what motivate Dixon.

Through long conversations with her friend and eventual GirlTrek co-founder Vanessa Garrison, Dixon discovered that both she and Garrison had an unfulfilled sense of purpose. Specifically, they both wanted to give back to female African-American community.

So they started GirlTrek, an organization that was launched in 2010 to encourage black women to walk their way towards better health. Beyond the obvious physical benefits and community building, Dixon and Garrison cite African-American history as motivation, from the endless walking of Harriet Tubman along the Underground Railroad to the civil rights marches of 1965 in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama.

In March of this year, GirlTrek chartered 10 buses so 500 of its members could participate in the 50th anniversary of the Selma Bloody Sunday March. Wearing their "superhero blue" GirlTrek T-shirts, Dixon, Garrison and their sisters in health marched to honor the sacrifices their community had made before and the desire of African-American women to stand up for their health.

"We have an obligation," says Dixon, "to just live our healthiest most fulfilled lives because so many people have walked so far for us to get to this moment."