06/25/2015 08:21 am ET Updated Jun 23, 2016

HBCU Alumni to Race Against Health Disparities in Black Communities


This Saturday, hundreds of alumni from historically black colleges and universities throughout the country will gather for the annual DC HBCU Alumni Alliance 5K Run and Community Health and Wellness Fair. The annual race serves as a summertime gathering for friends connected by the HBCU experience, and in support of raising scholarship money for students who will attend black colleges in the fall.

But this year's race also features a secondary mission to the Alliance's primary mission of scholarship support. The 5K, which will begin on the Howard University campus and take runners through and around the Georgia Ave. corridor, will feature multiple stations for free health screenings and information for race attendees.

The goal - to raise awareness of the health disparities like diabetes and high blood pressure which disproportionately affect and kill African-Americans.

All colleges and universities work to generate goodwill and quality of life for the communities in which they operate. But only HBCUs serve as a change agent for communities of color, most often negatively impacted by shifts in economic, political and social development. When hundreds of black college graduates, from campuses all over the country meet this Saturday, they'll be racing for two different prizes - the chance for the upcoming generation to serve as HBCU change agents, and to make sure that they, and their families, are around long enough to see change actually happen.

I had the chance to recently interview organizers of the event - DC HBCU Alumni Alliance President Jamie Tettey, Race Coordinator Sam Washington, and Kaiser Permanente Executive Director of External Affairs and Community Benefit Maritha Gay about the race and its potential impact to the surrounding community.