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  1. “Motown 25” and Its Contribution to Sickle Cell Awareness

    September 11, 2017 by Andrea
    motown 25

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    Here's a sickle cell awareness fact you may not have known: "Motown 25" -- that epic night back in 1983 of A-list performances from Michael Jackson, the Temptations, The Supremes, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and more -- was not only a celebration of the label's quarter century of success, but also a fundraising event for sickle cell. SCD was close to the Motown family, as one of their own (Temptations member Paul Williams) battled the disease, along with depression, and unfortunately, ended his own life just ten years prior.

    One man, Michael Soyannwo, and his team are bringing this little-known fact to life in a new documentary called "The Night Motown Sang for Sickle Cell Anaemia," due to drop next Black History Month. According to Soyannwo, most people don't realize Motown 25 was a benefit concert for sickle cell because "the agenda changed the minute Michael Jackson did the Moonwalk." After that, that's all anyone could talk about and the issue of SCD got lost once again.  

    The doc, being filmed by the UK-based company Rockindale Productions, includes interviews with entertainment insiders, sickle cell experts, and journalists and tackles the unfortunate truth that "conditions that are suffered by people of color, always, always, are way, way down [on the list of importance]," says journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in one clip. 

    Watch the full trailer below:


  2. More Hidden Figures: Sickle Cell Pioneers You Should Definitely Know

    February 6, 2017 by Andrea
    YouTube/Screenshot

    YouTube/Screenshot



    1) Florence Neal Cooper-Smith

    A native of Virginia, Cooper-Smith first learned about the existence of SCD when she was just a child back in the early 1940s. While waiting for a doctor's appointment, she picked up a book and started reading. That book was all about sickle cell disease, and it ignited a passion within her to help those who lived with it. Since the '60s, Cooper-Smith has been working to raise awareness of sickle cell not only in her local communities, but also state-wide and nationwide. Known as the "mother of sickle cell in Virginia," Cooper-Smith is also the first Black woman to have a professorship named after her.



    2) William Warrick Cardozo
    Before Cooper-Smith stumbled upon that book in her doctor's office, Cardozo had already begun groundwork on sickle cell studies. Following his studies at Hampton University (then called Hampton Institute) and Ohio State University, Cardozo began a fellowship in Chicago where he began researching sickle cell and soon published the paper, "Immunologica Studies of Sickle Cell Anemia" in 1937. In it, he detailed his discoveries: sickle cell disease was inherited and it occurred largely in Black people, among other findings.

    3) Charles Drew
    The first-ever medical director of the American Red Cross, Drew developed improved methods of storing blood plasma, so that blood could be collected and saved ahead of time, making blood transfusions more efficient. He also led the charge to create America's first full-scale blood bank. His methods were fueled by his discoveries that blood could be dried and later restored to its original state when its use was needed. 


  3. Celebrating Black History Month and Recognizing Those Dedicated to Sickle Cell Awareness

    February 1, 2016 by Andrea
    Photo: Screenshot/Vimeo

    Photo: Screenshot/Vimeo, Toyin Adesola



    As we celebrate the start of Black History Month and honor the contributions and struggles of those who've come before, we'd also like to recognize a few people who are making history today in regard to sickle cell awareness. A disease that disproportionately affects African Americans, it is paramount that we celebrate advancements and those people who help to make them a reality.

    1. Memphis Grizzlies Player, Mike Conley
    According to The Commerical Appeal, Orion Federal Credit Union donated $15,000 to the Methodist Healthcare Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center in Tennessee on Conley's behalf. A longtime advocate of sickle cell, Conley's passion for raising awareness of SCD stems from the fact that a few of his own family members are warriors, themselves.

    2. The Team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Adult Sickle Cell Clinic
    Last week, UAB also raised money -- $1 million, in fact -- to go toward its Adult Sickle Cell Clinic. Not an overnight success type situation, raising these funds took half a decade and a lot of perseverance. As reported by Alabama Newscenter, back in December of 2010, the North Central Alabama chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America pledged $1 million to the clinic. Over the course of the next five years, many fundraising events were held and a sickle cell awareness vehicle tag was created and sold until, finally, the full amount was collected and presented to the clinic this past December.

    3. Toyin Adesola
    A native Nigerian and sickle cell warrior for more than 40 years, Adesola refused to succumb to sickle cell and has made a name for herself as a speaker, advocate, and author. In a recent interview with Konnect Africa, Adesola credits her faith in God with helping to keep her going. She also launched a nonprofit called the Sickle Cell Advocacy and Management Initiative to help reduce the occurrence of SCD in Nigeria and to "empower and improve the lives of people with sickle cell anaemia disorider to live healthy, positive, and impactful lives by educating, creating awareness, and providing support through various channels." Her 2005 autobiography, "Still Standing", is also being made into a film. Check out the trailer here.

    Stay tuned throughout this month, as we recognize even more of those who contribute to the awareness and advocacy of SCD.


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