Connecting the Dots panel at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. (Courtesy photo)

Hundreds of local residents visited the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on March 2, to attend OneLegacy’s Connecting the Dots: Hip Hop & Health Community Event and Panel. This inaugural event hosted by the local organ procurement organization offered a variety of free services including free A1C and high cholesterol health screenings from OneLegacy’s OPO/HBCU Coalition partner, Charles Drew Medical School, as well as free oral hygiene services from Chinatown Service Center. The event also included free haircuts, manicures, yoga and wellness sessions, COVID-19 tests, and fresh produce, followed by a health panel.

The panel was moderated by producer, artepreneur, and HBCU graduate Maleena Lawrence and featured California Black Health Network’s Executive Director Rhonda Smith, who shared vital information about African Americans and health.

Related Stories:

Other panel participants were hip-Hop legend, kidney transplant recipient and donor father Leslie Pridgen, better known as Freeway; kidney recipient, celebrity TV and radio host, Nicole Richardson of “The Nikki Rich Show;” and Compton native, writer, comedian, filmmaker and sickle cell warrior J. Snow.  The panelists shared their personal experiences with healthcare and promoted health advocacy among African Americans.

Freeway closed the event with a special performance of his songs. (Courtesy photo)

“I went to the hospital. I was in end-stage renal failure, and I had to get pushed straight to dialysis, and this is what we are trying to prevent from happening to the people,” recalled Freeway as he detailed his journey back to health and into advocacy.

“It is important to have a good relationship with your doctor, to ask questions, so you know that is going on,” noted Freeway.

Likewise, J. Snow asked everyone to pay attention to the signs and watch what you eat and what you do to stay healthy. Richardson encouraged the audience to take advantage of the opportunities around them and advocate for their own health.

Councilmember Heather Hutt, left, addresses audience at the event. At right is E’Tiffany Jones, OneLegacy’s Head of Production and Strategic Partnerships. (Courtesy photo)

Complimentary raffle prizes were distributed throughout the event, including Marathon clothing, an exercise bike, air purifiers, and backpacks. Children enjoyed face painting, balloon art, and a 360-revolving photobooth.

A large stage anchored the center of the mall and featured Councilmember Heather Hutt offering welcoming remarks, music from DJ R-tistic, presentations from yoga and wellness influencer Jonelle Lewis, testimonials from OneLegacy ambassadors Kevito Clark (kidney recipient) and Vinnie Brooks (heart recipient), and routines and dances by the  Xsplosive Drill Team.

Health screenings were conducted by the students and faculty of Charles Drew University Medical School, which is OneLegacy’s HBCU/OPO Coalition partner. (Courtesy photo)

OneLegacy is a local organ procurement organization that serves seven counties in Southern California, and the Connecting the Dots program started in the summer of 2020 as a virtual panel to reach communities of color.  The program has now expanded to include live events in order to reach a wider audience.

Connecting the Dots: Hip Hop & Health kicked off National Kidney Month, simultaneously providing closure to Black History Month. The participation of African American organ transplant recipients and health advocates helped navigate the critical conversation of healthcare advocacy among communities of color.

With higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure than the rest of the U.S. population, African Americans experience a higher risk of organ failure. African Americans comprise about 13 percent of the population but account for thirty-five percent of the kidney failures in the United States. More than 28 thousand African Americans in the United States are currently waiting for an organ that would save their lives.

Free haircuts and manicures were provided. (Courtesy photo)


The Xsplosive Drill Team performed at the event. (Courtesy photo)
Jonelle offered a yoga stretching session for event attendees. (Courtesy photo)