ATLANTA, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Cancer Society has partnered 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, and 21 percent lacking health insurance, the high-energy, hard-hitting spots draw attention to the need for quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Currently, 47 million people in America are without health insurance and millions 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 a major public awareness campaign that the Society launched in the fall of 2007. Research has shown that lack of adequate health insurance coverage is associated with less access to care and poorer outcomes for cancer patients. Enabling more African Americans to get necessary cancer screenings is critical, as African Americans are more likely than whites to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, and less likely than whites to survive five years after diagnosis for most cancers at all stages of diagnosis. The PSA featuring MIKE-E is an effort to raise awareness of the issue among African Americans.
"While lack of access to health care is an issue that affects all Americans, it is particularly of concern in the African American community where it is one important factor in lower screening rates," said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society. "We've worked with MIKE-E in the past to encourage young African Americans attending our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities not to smoke. We felt that his passion and unique style could help us reach a broader African American audience to raise awareness of the importance of access to quality, affordable health care."
Rooted in the fundamental principles of knowledge-based empowerment, the public awareness campaign, Learn. Speak. Act., provides a clear call to action, mixing traditional African drums with modern spoken word. During the week of May 5, 2008, the Society will begin distribution of the 30- and 60- second PSAs to national and local television outlets with large African American viewerships. The spot will also be available for viewing on www.cancer.org.
"After witnessing my aunt's battle with cancer, and having known and encountered so many people who are affected by this issue, I felt compelled to address the issue," said MIKE-E. "The American Cancer Society is a leader in the fight to eliminate cancer, and I'm honored to contribute to their efforts."
The PSAs open with a screen split into three vertical panels: MIKE-E is in the middle panel while hands beating traditional African drums appear in the side panels. He begins to recite his poem, rhythmically stating his blunt message, "You are one pay check away from poverty, one illness or injury from losing everything you own." As the spot progresses the three panels show different shots of MIKE-E and the drums and drummers. The spot ends with a full screen shot of MIKE-E urging viewers to learn more about access to quality care by visiting the Society's website, www.cancer.org.
The Learn. Speak. Act. campaign is a creative collaboration between MIKE-E and 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 he supports orphan outreach and health care programs, and maintains nationwide recognition with one of the country's most popular hits "Ethiopia (Everything Will Be Alright)." Stateside, the Detroit-based lyricist is recognized for repeat performances on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, appearing regularly in nationally televised spoken word vignettes for the NFL, and teaming with the American Cancer Society to orchestrate and headline the AFROFLOW TOUR -- a groundbreaking cancer awareness and tobacco cessation initiative aimed primarily at African American colleges and universities.
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
SOURCE American Cancer Society