KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — There is a national push underway to reduce Black maternal mortality. This week is Black Maternal Health Week, which is recognized each year from April 11-17 to bring attention and action to preventing pregnancy-related deaths and improving maternal health outcomes.

The Knox County Health Department is recognizing Black Maternal Health Week in partnership with the Knox Birth Equity Alliance. There are multiple, free events during this week.

“By offering opportunities for our community to learn more about Black maternal health, we’re raising awareness of the issue and working towards addressing these disparities,” a news release from KCHD states. 

On Wednesday, April 12, a “Taste & Paint” event will be held at the Charles W. Cansler Family YMCA, 616 Jessamine St. from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event will feature food from a Black-owned business and painting will be facilitated by a regional artist. Registration is required and information can be found here.

On Thursday, April 13, the 2nd Annual Black Maternal Health Showcase will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Frieson Black Cultural Center, 1800 Melrose Ave., on the University of Tennessee campus.

This year’s Black Maternal Health Showcase will feature local researchers, business owners, and professionals who work in the interest of Black maternal health in Knoxville.

Featured guests include:

  • Adrien Jones, Public Health Educator
  • Femeika Elliott, Postpartum Nutrition and Wellness
  • Hannah-Louisa Mendoza, Reentry Program Coordinator
  • Jodie Simms-MacLeod, Midwifery Director at UT Medical Center
  • Temitayo Abayomi, Doctoral Researcher

The free event is open to the public and food and drinks will be served. Contact Dr. Danielle Procope Bell at for questions.

On Saturday, April 15, the 2nd Annual Community Baby Shower will happen at Overcoming Believers Church, 211 Harriet Tubman St. from noon to 2 p.m. Participants can enjoy a shower of baby essentials, birthing and postpartum resources, and more. Registration through Gennisi Charitable Birth Services is required. Space is limited.

Those interested in participating in any of these free events, please visit KCHD’s website to register.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, such as variation in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias. Social determinants of health prevent many people from racial and ethnic minority groups from having fair opportunities for economic, physical, and emotional health.”