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"Black Women's Roundtable Congratulates Past Honoree, Dr. Regina Benjamin, for Nomination as Surgeon General"

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dr_regina_benjamins (31k image)Washington, DC - The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation's (NCBCP) Black Women's Roundtable (BWR) is proud and elated to hear President Obama's announcement today that their 2007 honoree, Dr. Regina Benjamin, has been selected as the next U. S. Surgeon General.

Benjamin, an Alabama family physician and Morehouse School of Medicine graduate, was honored by Black Women's Roundtable during their "Celebration of Our Sisters of the Gulf Coast Wellness Journey," for her unyielding determination to provide a rural health clinic for low-income residents of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The clinic was destroyed when the Gulf Coast town was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. It was rebuilt and burned down the day before re-opening.

"Healthcare is one of our highest priorities. Dr. Benjamin clearly has the educational and professional credentials to serve as America's chief health educator; and her personal testament speaks volumes," said Melanie L. Campbell, executive director and CEO of NCBCP and convener BWR. "In addition to demonstrating a commitment to providing healthcare to the poor by enduring fires and hurricanes to stay in her rural health clinic, Dr. Benjamin has family that died from preventable diseases like lung cancer, high blood pressure, and HIV related diseases. She is extrodinarily qualified to provide leadership as we work to ensure quality health care for all. We look forward to working with Dr. Benjamin to usher in an era of health, healing, and wellness."

"Given the enormous health disparities confronting African American women, the appointment of Regina Benjamin as Surgeon General is just what the doctor ordered," says Felicia M. Davis, president, Just Environment and member of BWR. "Under her leadership our nation will move to close enormous gaps in care for low income and rural communities. Dr. Benjamin's work after Katrina distinguished her as a physician dedicated to healing whole communities. President Obama has indeed selected the most qualified person for the job," Davis adds.

Alabama NCBCP coordinator and BWR member, LaTosha Brown adds, "As a native of the gulf coast, I have served with Dr. Benjamin on the Gulf Coast Fund's board for the past few years and I can attest that she has tirelessly worked towards improving the healthcare system in America. Because of Dr. Benjamin's work in the gulf coast region and overall leadership on healthcare issues throughout the country, she offers a unique understanding of the barriers and challenges for rural and marginalized communities. This appointment is a major victory for the millions of Americans in both rural and urban communities," adds Brown, who will coordinate a tour of Dr. Benjamin's Bayou La Batre Clinic this coming Friday.

The Black Women's Roundtable is an intergenerational civic engagement network of the NCBCP that promotes the involvement of African American women in policy discussions and works diligently to ensure that their priority issues are communicated to policy makers. Over the past few months BWR recommended qualified African American women for White House appointments and Boards and Commissions, and attended Middle Class Task Force meetings convened by Vice President Biden. The diverse group of women also met with several influential members of the new administration including: Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council director; Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; Calvin Jenkins, deputy associate administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development, SBA; and Meaghan Burdick, SBA's White House liaison.

BWR also partnered with the with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to distribute the BWR "Whispering Out Loud Op-ed Series" to black newspapers nationwide. The editorials address critical issues that impact African American women, placing a special emphasis on what Black women need and expect from the new administration. For more information visit www.ncbcp.org.

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