Clovis Semmes, Ph.D., presented The Office of Diversity and Community Partnership lecture titled “Eliminating Health Disparities: A Theory of African American Health” on May 10 at the School of Medicine. Semmes is professor of black studies and sociology and director of black studies at UMKC. He is also Professor Emeritus of African-American Studies at Eastern Michigan University, where he spent 20 years.
Semmes discussed health disparities, historic events and experiences, especially among the African-American community, underscoring overall health from the time they were taken into the United States to the more recent prevalence of health disparities.
“Health is really a function of culture and cultural process and how institutions that are part of this culture are impacted,” Semmes said.
Semmes shared his theory of health and culture along with trends that have formed the current culture. He also emphasized stress and its health outcomes. From his time living in the projects of Chicago, he has seen and lived the stresses that people, especially minorities, experience in these areas.
During his time as a recruiter for Northwestern, he was able to expose underserved youth to higher education. “Opportunity is everything,” Semmes said. “To provide opportunity for young people is extraordinary.”