Educating and Mobilizing African American Communities in the Fight Against Prostate Cancer Panel Discussion

Panelists, which included disparity rally participants, had a lively discussion. They addressed key challenges towards eliminating the African American prostate cancer disparity and recapped their individual actions to help mobilize communities into action across the country.

“We are facing a prostate cancer crisis and have to change the culture within our communities from one of silence to one of openness and action towards eliminating the

prostate cancer disparity. “

-Mr. Thomas Farrington, President and Founder, PHEN

Adrian Backus, JD, MDiv, PHEN’s Director of Church Partnerships and Outreach, moderated the session and provided an overview of the prostate cancer disparity rally’s objectives:

  • To provide prostate cancer public awareness and education with a focus on patients, caregivers and men at high risk within Black communities.
  • To introduce PHEN innovative educational tools ( and to assist patients and families in managing early detection and disease care.
  • To educate and mobilize local leaders and patients to collaborate to continue the efforts initiated by the disparity rally.

Backus then played pre-recorded video messages that included Grant Hill, NBA Hall of Fame Player and Atlanta Hawks Executive. “Hello this is Grant Hill with the Atlanta Hawks, letting you know that prostate cancer is a crisis among black men.”  Hill is one of PHEN’s 72 Disparity Rally participants, which ranges from celebrities to clergy to medical professionals and survivors. Each have recorded prostate cancer awareness messages which are promoted via radio and social media. “We must raise knowledge and awareness about the benefit of prostate cancer early detection and mobilize action to eliminate this crisis.”

“When you’re among a community of support you are able to find your way a lot better.”


“It can be polarizing, and it can be very difficult. It’s tough but when you know that you are not alone in it, it makes the journey a lot easier to go through.”

– Reverend Dr. Byron Benton, Senior Pastor, Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, North Charleston, SC


We were making great progress. If you look at SC mortality rates for black men, they were decreasing as well as cancer mortality rates. But then you know what happened. COVID.”


“I think what we’re seeing in South Carolina is what we’re seeing all over the country. Many people did not get screened for any type of disease or cancer during COVID.”

-Marvella Ford, MD, Associate Director of Cancer Disparities, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, Charleston, SC


“I’m doing a lot in Savannah, I’m very excited. It’s a lot but nothing can be gained if you don’t try.”

-Deacon Raymond Fuller, Jr., PHEN Ambassador, Savannah, GA

“Most of our states have offices of minority health and I think it’s important that we harness those resources because there’s untapped money there.”


“In many of our states I think we can tap into, and harness state funded higher education.”


“The models that I’ve seen that works best are partnerships, no one is funding solo operations.”


“At the end of the day, the Black church is still the premier organization in terms of a level of trust and people coming out.”

-Pastor / Representative James Gailliard, Senior Pastor, Word Tabernacle Church, State Representative, Rocky Mount, NC

“When I first encountered prostate cancer, it took me some time to decide what to do, but I was able to be in dialogue with so many men in the life of the church.”


“The testimonies, support groups and individual counseling, it’s important from the pulpit to raise consciousness and engage men, because this is critical.”

-Reverend Dr. Dumas A. Harshaw Jr., Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC


“I’d like to challenge each one of you. How do we go forward in this COVID era? We must partner with other lay organizations to get the word out.”


“You’ve got to get back out there, you can’t let COVID dictate what we do.”


The way we save lives is when people see us in person, and they know that we are survivors.”

-Mr. AJ Merriweather, PHEN Ambassador, Jacksonville, FL


“When we say we want to talk to the everyday person – that’s me.”


“Why don’t we say, our black lives matter to accept the call to do the necessary thing for each of us individually? Is your life worth it? But are we willing to do what is necessary for our children, grandchildren and the young people that we come into contact with each day.”

Mr. Lee H. Moultrie, PHEN Ambassador, Lee H. Moultrie & Associates, Moultrie & Associates, Charleston, SC


“Since COVID what we believe is the model of we go get them, we can’t rest in a system that is broken. So, what ENON does is we have a campaign called men know your numbers that we do every March. It’s a draw for black men and men of other ethnicities.”


“Just this past March we tested 300 men. What’s important for us is that we own our information, because we follow-up with all the men.”


“We maintain contact with city, state, local and federal officials around this issue of prostate cancer.”

-Reverend Blane Newberry, Associate Pastor, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA


With PHEN we’ve established ambassadors. They are responsible for taking the life-saving information from PHEN and getting the word out throughout the state of Florida and the Bahamas.”


“We had a PHEN rally in Tampa Florida and through the screening that took place, we actually were able to save a young man’s life.”

Reverend Sha’ Reff Rashad, Senior Pastor, New Mount Moriah AME Church, Jacksonville, FL


“I had a beloved member of my congregation who was deeply entrenched in this PC work and unfortunately he succumbed to a resurgence of cancer, and so my attention to prostate cancer challenges was heightened because he made sure I was engaged.”


I haven’t heard a lot about other diseases than COVID in the last 24 months. So that may be a signal to us that we need to ring the bell and ring it loud so that we can refocus our attention on it both in our churches and with the great work that you all are doing through the network.

Reverend Dr. Prince Rivers, Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church, Durham, NC


“It’s very important that we educate the men so that they can be informed, and they can educate the providers.”


“When I was at Walter Reed for an appointment a gentleman came up to me and he said you and PHEN saved my life. We had an event at my church, and you gave a presentation at my church, and I went for my screening and found out I had prostate cancer. Today I just finished my radiation and I want to thank you.”

Artie Shelton, MD, US Army Veteran, PHEN Ambassador, Olney, MD


“North Carolina is on a roll. We look at the demographics. Here in North Carolina, we re-write the script. Where do we find black men on a Saturday? They may be at a car show, so we take the information to the car show.”


“The church is important, but when you look at where are African American men employed and we need to go there.”

James A. Smith, III, MD, President, NC Minority Prostate Cancer Awareness Action Team, Raleigh, NC

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