Health Festival Focused on Black Men’s Health This June 8

By: Christopher Edwards

For the third year, Brooklyn nonprofit Heart, Body & Soul will host the Black Man’s Health Festival providing free screenings, panel discussions and education on health issues facing Black men. The event will take place on Saturday, June 8 at the Weeksvile Heritage Center.

Saturday’s event will begin with a bike ride at 9am, followed by the festival starting at 11am, which includes blood tests for prostate cancer. Attendees can also expect live music from a DJ and food from Aunts et Uncles and Brooklyn Tea.

“I wanted to give Black men something where they would walk in feeling that they were being supported and uplifted and walk out feeling like they were poured into,” said Christopher Williams, founder of Heart, Body & Soul. “I wanted to connect people with access to resources that they normally wouldn’t have access to.”


Heart, Body & Soul founder Christopher Williams. Photo: Supplied/Toni Dubois, Heart, Body & Soul.

Williams, the publisher of WhereItzAt Magazine, founded Heart Body & Soul after facing serious health challenges himself. In October 2015, at the age of 42, Williams suffered his first heart attack. Young and in good physical shape, the heart attack came as a shock.“I didn’t want to tell anyone because it was a scary thing for me,” said Williams. “So, I kept it very quiet.”

More health issues followed in September of 2021 when he went to the emergency room for what he thought was appendicitis, but later learned was Stage 3 appendiceal cancer, a rare type of cancer of the appendix. While awaiting surgery, Williams suffered a second heart attack in October of 2021.

These compounding health challenges inspired Williams to spread awareness about the health disparities faced by Black men. He founded Heart, Body & Soul in 2022 and launched the Black Man’s Health Festival the same year as the nonprofit’s flagship event.

“Besides my own health issues, there were friends of mine who were struggling, who had experienced some really tragic diagnoses and were suffering in silence,” said Williams.

Williams hopes the festival will be a platform for Black men to feel comfortable to talk about the things that they were dealing with, and learn how they can advocate for themselves.

2022 report from National Vital Statistics System puts the life expectancy for Black men at 66.7 years, compared to the overall life expectancy of 76.1 years. White men have a life expectancy of 73.7 years, according to the report.

In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, heart disease, which refers to several types of heart conditions including coronary artery disease and heart attack, is the leading cause of death for Black men in the U.S., making up 24% of deaths.

“I had two heart attacks, so I’m labeled as having coronary artery disease,” said Williams. “It is preventable, it’s treatable. We don’t have to die from this.”

Beyond physical health, Williams emphasized the importance of mental health awareness. The festival will feature panel discussions on work-life balance from Men at Work Healing and Wall Street Alphas.

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