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APHA mourns the loss of William Carter Jenkins, public health leader and health disparities advocate

Date: Feb 19 2019

Contact: Megan Lowry, 202-777-3913

Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association

Washington, D.C., Feb. 19, 2019 – “Today APHA mourns the loss of Dr. William Carter Jenkins, an extraordinary leader in public health and a lifelong advocate for addressing racism in our society and eliminating health disparities. He will be remembered for his unwavering nearly 50-year commitment to our nation and the world.  

“Among his accomplishments, he was instrumental in helping end the infamous Tuskegee study, which demonstrated the need for ethics in medicine and ultimately changed the way we do research in America. He was outspoken in his approach to racial inequities and fearless in his efforts to address discrimination in research. As a leader and founder of the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues, Dr. Jenkins also demonstrated his lifelong dedication to building the nation’s capacity for high quality minority research.  

“When speaking at APHA’s 2010 Annual Meeting and Expo opening session about social justice as a public health imperative, Dr. Jenkins said, ‘I don’t have any data to present today. I’m going to do what the old men in the fishing village I grew up in did, and that is to tell a story.’ He then related the story of the Tuskegee study and the broader issues around it. Dr. Jenkins will be remembered not just for his achievements as an epidemiologist, academic, researcher and mentor, but for his unique ability as a leader to turn racial disparities data in to powerful stories that inspired change. 

“As a former APHA Executive Board member and constant partner in our work, Dr. Jenkins will be greatly missed by our Association and those around him. We are grateful for the effect his leadership and vision has left on our profession and on the health of the American people.”


APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public's health. Visit us at www.apha.org.