Race Forward Founder Dr. Gary Delgado to Help Advance Health Equity in the Treatment, Prevention and Discussion of Aphasia Rejoining the Organization as Senior Fellow

Race Forward Founder Dr. Gary Delgado to Help Advance Health Equity in the Treatment, Prevention and Discussion of Aphasia; Rejoining the Organization as Senior Fellow 

January 8, 2024


WASHINGTON, DC — Race Forward today announced that its founder, Dr. Gary Delgado, a nationally recognized author, organizer, researcher, and activist on issues of race and social justice, will return to the organization as a senior fellow. In this role, Delgado will advance health equity in the treatment, prevention, and discussion of aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate. It can occur suddenly after a stroke or head injury, or develop overtime as a side effect to a brain tumor or other health condition. 

In the United States, two and a half million residents live with aphasia, and this number increases by 200,000 annually. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Black and Latino communities are more likely to have strokes than their white counterparts. Additionally, middle-aged Black people (between 45 and 64) are three times more likely than their white peers to have strokes. 

"The goal of this project is to center people with aphasia, with an emphasis on people of color. We aim to drive innovation and diverse approaches in treating aphasia,” Delgado said. "We also want to shine a light on the need to train and recruit more diverse speech pathologists, healthcare and social services professionals."

Dr. Delgado received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. Frustrated with the unwillingness of community organizing to explicitly address race at that time, he founded the Center for Third World Organizing, the country’s first organizer training institute with a racial justice focus. He subsequently founded the Applied Research Center (now Race Forward) to give "intellectual ammunition" to organizers and activists working on racial justice. 

His latest endeavor was spurred by his own experience. Delgado has lived with aphasia since 2019 when he suffered a stroke. When his speech did not improve as quickly as he wanted, he began looking into alternative therapies. After noticing very few alternative therapies, especially ones designed to address racial disproportionalities, Delgado began thinking about strategies to organize with persons of color directly impacted by aphasia. 

“Race Forward recognizes that racial inequities – including within health care – are pervasive and profound. They can impact a person’s quality of life and ability to thrive,” said Glenn Harris, president, Race Forward. "Since so much of the American experience is influenced by race, this is an area that must be consistently addressed." 

"Race Forward’s partnership with Delgado follows our longstanding commitment to racial equity in every facet of life," Harris concluded. "It also follows our work with the Rise to Health Coalition, where we work with partners to advance policies and solutions to transform the health care ecosystem so all people have the power, circumstances and resources to achieve optimal health."