Midwife Jeanine Valrie Logan is Chicago Beyond's newest Leadership Venture recipient. She'll receive funding and support to make the Chicago South Side Birth Center on the Southeast Side. Credit: Provided

SOUTH SHORE — The creators behind the South Side Birth Center — Chicago’s first independent, Black-midwife-led birthing center — are hosting their first event this month.

The Chicago South Side Birth Center will host the Latch and Stroll event to coincide with Black Breastfeeding Week, raise awareness of the issues that have led to Black people struggling to breastfeed and to uplift Black people who breastfeed, organizers said.

The event is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 27. The 2-mile stroll will start at Rosenblum Park, 7547 S. Euclid Ave., and end at 63rd Street and Cornell Avenue.

Those interested in participating in the Latch and Stroll can register for free tickets online. Those who’d like to support the birth center can also register for a paid ticket and receive a T-shirt or tote bag.

There will be a celebration at the end of the walk with information on breastfeeding, resources from the birth center and its partners, demonstrations, a kids area, yoga sessions, live music and food and drinks.

There will be a shuttle to take people from the starting line to the celebration area for those who cannot walk but want to participate.

“We decided that we would do the Stroll during Black Breastfeeding Week so that we could address the need for Black Breastfeeding Week,” said Shaquan Dupart, the birthing center’s development steward. “And so that we could highlight those organizations who were out here doing the work, so that we could present Chicago South Side Birth Center as a really necessary part in decreasing those breastfeeding disparities.”

Black Breastfeeding Week runs Aug. 25-31. This is its 10th year.

The week began as a way to draw attention to issues facing Black people who breastfeed, including lack of diversity in the lactation fields, unique cultural barriers and “desert-like” conditions in Black communities that make breastfeeding difficult, such as limited access to fresh food, according to the Black Breastfeeding Week website.

Helping Black parents breastfeed could decrease infant mortality among Black children, who are dying at twice the rate of white children, according to Black Breastfeeding Week.

“It was really important for a lot of organizations and a lot of individual advocates to make sure that breastfeeding and chest feedings were not only something that … our community members could see, but that social media kind of blew up in making sure that these were stories and narratives that were shared,” said Jeanine Valrie Logan, the founder and lead steward of the center.

“Not only because our initiation and continuation rates for breast and chest feeding are lower than other ethnic groups or races, but also the outcomes affect us more.”

The importance of helping Black people who breastfeed became clear to Valrie Logan when she was pregnant with her first child, she said. She was doing research on breastfeeding and couldn’t find many pictures of Black people breastfeeding — and when she did, they usually depicted enslaved Black people breastfeeding white children or other offensive portrayals, she said.

These and other issues show why it’s important to share more positive information for Black parents and share images of Black people who breastfeed, Valrie Logan said.

The Latch and Stroll will also help the Chicago South Side Birth Center staff prepare for the kind of work they hope to provide to the community once the facility is open, Valrie Logan said.

“The actual foundation of Chicago South Side Birth Center is to be community-focused, so we want what’s important to the community to be important to us, and we are part of the same community,” she said. We’re not outside of that.

“As we get to meet people, we get to collaborate with some of our favorite organizers and organizations in the city. It really means a lot that this is our first event, because we’re developing those relationships. Development of those relationships early on are just setting the foundation for the opportunities and experiences that people can have at the birth center.”

The Chicago South Side Birth Center is fundraising for its building and renovations. The center will bring maternal health care to the Southeast Side, where there are no freestanding birth centers. It would also be a resource for Black health care workers and patients lacking widespread maternal health resources.

The Chicago South Side Birth Center is also still looking for sponsors for the Latch and Stroll. Those looking to sponsor the event can send an email to chicagosouthsidebirthcenter@gmail.com.

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