ATLANTA, May 5 The American Cancer Society haspartnered with international recording artist and poet, Michael "MIKE-E"Ellison to produce a public service announcement (PSA) entitled Learn. Speak.Act. With 24 percent of African Americans living below the poverty line, and21 percent lacking health insurance, the high-energy, hard-hitting spots drawattention to the need for quality, affordable health care for all Americans.Currently, 47 million people in America are without health insurance andmillions more have inadequate health coverage, and may be just one illness,injury or missed paycheck away from financial ruin.
The issue of inadequate access to health care has been the focus of amajor public awareness campaign that the Society launched in the fall of 2007.Research has shown that lack of adequate health insurance coverage isassociated with less access to care and poorer outcomes for cancer patients.Enabling more African Americans to get necessary cancer screenings iscritical, as African Americans are more likely than whites to be diagnosedwith cancer at a later stage, and less likely than whites to survive fiveyears after diagnosis for most cancers at all stages of diagnosis. The PSAfeaturing MIKE-E is an effort to raise awareness of the issue among AfricanAmericans.
"While lack of access to health care is an issue that affects allAmericans, it is particularly of concern in the African American communitywhere it is one important factor in lower screening rates," said Otis W.Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society. "We've workedwith MIKE-E in the past to encourage young African Americans attending ournation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities not to smoke. We feltthat his passion and unique style could help us reach a broader AfricanAmerican audience to raise awareness of the importance of access to quality,affordable health care."
Rooted in the fundamental principles of knowledge-based empowerment, thepublic awareness campaign, Learn. Speak. Act., provides a clear call toaction, mixing traditional African drums with modern spoken word. During theweek of May 5, 2008, the Society will begin distribution of the 30- and 60-second PSAs to national and local television outlets with large AfricanAmerican viewerships. The spot will also be available for viewing onwww.cancer.org.
"After witnessing my aunt's battle with cancer, and having known andencountered so many people who are affected by this issue, I felt compelled toaddress the issue," said MIKE-E. "The American Cancer Society is a leader inthe fight to eliminate cancer, and I'm honored to contribute to theirefforts."
The PSAs open with a screen split into three vertical panels: MIKE-E is inthe middle panel while hands beating traditional African drums appear in theside panels. He begins to recite his poem, rhythmically stating his bluntmessage, "You are one pay check away from poverty, one illness or injury fromlosing everything you own." As the spot progresses the three panels showdifferent shots of MIKE-E and the drums and drummers. The spot ends with afull screen shot of MIKE-E urging viewers to learn more about access toquality care by visiting the Society's website, www.cancer.org.
The Learn. Speak. Act. campaign is a creative collaboration between MIKE-Eand the American Cancer Society's in-house production staff -- Andrew Huff,producer/director and Meggan Hood, manager of advertising services.
MIKE-E is an international hip-hop and spoken word recording artist,actor, philanthropist and youth motivator. He was born in Ethiopia, where hesupports orphan outreach and health care programs, and maintains nationwiderecognition with one of the country's most popular hits "Ethiopia (EverythingWill Be Alright)." Stateside, the Detroit-based lyricist is recognized forrepeat performances on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, appearing regularl