CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As Black History Month comes to a close, members of the community came together to celebrate the Black History Month Grand Finale event this afternoon.
Smooth Jazz filled the halls and shelves of Evelyn Cooper's Lott's of Art. Although her shop is filled with stunning wall to wall artwork and decor, what really stood out today is how medical professionals stood before the community to talk about the importance of preventative healthcare and what it means to prioritize your health.
The theme was Black Health and Wellness, and Cooper, owner of Lott's of Art, understands the gravity that an event like this can have on the community.
"It's important to shed light on health issues in the African American Community. A lot of times we hide things that are a problem for us especially mental health." Cooper said.
Katrina Barnes can also attest to this, as she is a victims advocate and graduate student specializing in social work. Representation in the mental health sector is crucial for progress.
Barnes says, "there's such a stigma and reaching out for help when you are having issues such as depression, anxiety, also, if your family is going through some type of abuse, for some reason, if within the black community, it's hard for us to reach out for those services, and there's so many that are available."
She has seen the emotional toll these kinds of issues take, not only on adults, but children as well.
"Even in schools, you have to think about the behavior, if I look at a kid whose disobedient or getting in trouble, I'm not looking at that kid as an unruly child, I'm asking… what happened?" said Barnes.
For one ophthalmologist, Charlotte Akor, the reason she spoke at the event was simple.
"I just feel blessed to interact with people who look like me and you know, give back to my community " Akor said.
Akor stunned the crowd with her stories of experience in her line of work, and the importance of prioritizing your children's health as well. "I'm just passionate about making sure children get the proper treatment so they have two good eyes to see their future with."
These were just a few of the speakers at today's event, but the information they provided was immeasurable.
Evelyn Cooper went on to say "this event was very inspirational. Like I said, People felt free to express themselves. And hopefully we'll follow up on that in the future."
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