Friday, November 24, 2017
California Black Women’s Health Project Honors Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph
By Sentinel News Service
Published August 13, 2009


The California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP) launched its 15th Anniversary celebration by hosting the Women Who Dared: Our Legacy & Our Future Breakfast Gala honoring Sheryl Lee Ralph (actress & HIV/AIDS activist); Octavia Miles (lifetime community activist and Director of UCLA WORKING – a Worksite Wellness Project); and Joyce Jones Guinyard (Administrative Director of the UCLA Center to Eliminate Health Disparities and a pioneer in the Black women’s health advocacy movement.)

The air was filled with anticipation as nearly 150 women and men gathered at the City Club in the downtown Wells Fargo Center on Monday, August 3, to recognize three outstanding women for their countless contributions to the community.

CABWHP, the only statewide organization solely dedicated to improving the health of California’s Black women and girls, chose this year’s honorees for their passion and commitment to social justice conditions and health advocacy.

Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tony-nominated actress, writer, director, producer and activist, zealously charged the audience to “get the facts about [our health], to put ourselves first, and to make a difference!” She emphasized that welfare and social security were both “daring projects” when they were enacted, and healthcare reform is “another such daring project.” She exclaimed, “If you haven’t gotten the facts about what is [going on] in Washington regarding healthcare, you are hurting yourself!”

Ralph is a committed activist fighting to eradicate the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. Her DIVA Foundation, created in memory of friends who lost their battle with AIDS, strives to raise awareness and spread the truth about prevention and treatment. Through her foundation, nineteen years ago she created the acclaimed event Divas Simply Singing, a concert benefiting HIV/AIDS education and research.

Honoree Octavia Miles has dedicated her life to aiding, uplifting and inspiring others. As an English teacher turned corporate executive and community activist, she has never lost sight of serving the community. As Dr. Antronette Yancey, a professor at UCLA’s Public School of Health, said as she introduced Ms. Miles, “Octavia is a person who is insightful; she’s a get-it-done kind of person. We all want to be like Octavia when we are 75 [years old]!” She has dedicated over 50 years of service to help improve our communities’ health and well-being. Certified as a physical fitness and nutrition specialist, Ms. Miles has managed several projects including African American Women Fighting Cancer with Fitness and Eating and Exercise for a Cancer Free Life. Presently, she is Project Director of WORKING (Working Out Regularly Keeps Individuals Nurtured & Going). This project targets African American and Latino populations by developing effective strategies that promote physical activity and healthy living in work settings.

Honoree Dr. Joyce Jones Guinyard, trained as a chiropractor, is committed to a comprehensive approach to improving health and well-being. She is an effective advocate for the health of disenfranchised communities. Dr. Guinyard is currently the Administrative Director of the UCLA Center to Eliminate Health Disparities. In this capacity, she supports and manages a spectrum of project in areas such as cancer research, worksite wellness, nutrition and fitness.

Dr. Guinyard’s heart and passion for community service spans over two decades. She has been involved in collaborations with the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, University of California Cooperative Extension, the Center for Collaborative Planning, the Inglewood Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Southern California Chapter of the National Black Women’s Health Project, which was a precursor to the CABWHP.

A riveting dance tribute to the honorees was performed dancer Joy Williams. Later in the program, CABWHP’s Program Coordinator, Adrienne Bausley, recited a stirring poem by Shonnese Coleman entitled Sister Celebration.

Crystal Crawford, CEO of CABWHP, presented an Advocacy Update, which highlighted the group’s work in addressing a broad range of issues including reproductive justice, environmental justice, cancer prevention and research, healthcare reform, healthy weight and body image, sexual violence and the social determinants of health.

The attendees viewed a 30 second public service announcement followed by a shorter 15-second version. This PSA is part of CABWHP’s Black Women’s Mental Health Initiative, whose goal is to destigmatize and advocate for mental and emotional health and well-being in the Black community. The Mental Health Initiative was launched by CABWHP in 2002.

CABWHP presented each honoree with a framed color photograph of an Alvin Ailey dancer by photographer Andrew Eccles, as well as commendations from 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry and 2nd District County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Founded in 1994, CABWHP is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of California’s Black women and girls through education, policy, outreach, and advocacy. They are currently recruiting participants for their groundbreaking Advocate Training Program, which trains women to be health policy advocates and activists. For more information about CABWHP, call (310) 412-1828, email, or visit the website at

Categories: Health

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