Discussing the Black Maternal Mortality Crises with 4Kira4Moms Founder, Charles Johnson
In this episode of The Mommy Labor Nurse Podcast, I am joined by Charles Johnson, the founder of 4Kira4Moms.
Charles tragically lost his wife Kira during a routine C-section at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California in 2016. This experience led him to create 4Kira4moms in 2017.
The goal of 4Kira4Moms is to be a voice for other mothers and families facing unnecessary maternal loss and to help put an end to the black maternal mortality health crisis.
It is a sad reality that in the US, black women are four times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than white women. This is due to implicit bias and systemic racism within the healthcare system, as well as a lack of access to high-quality maternal healthcare and resources.
Inside the episode, Charles and I discuss this tragic epidemic and talk about what platforms like 4Kira4Moms are doing to spark change and shed light on the issue. Then we get into what we can do to support his mission!
Tune in to hear Kira's story and learn how you can help make a difference.
Learn more about Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson has dedicated his life to the pursuit of what his own family failed to receive – safe, respectful, and equitable maternal health outcomes in America. His passion for systemic change is driven by his love for his wife, Kira, who passed away following the birth of their second child. In April 2016, Kira underwent a routine C-section following an uncomplicated pregnancy. Hours later, she died from internal hemorrhaging despite adamant pleas for help from medical professionals by her husband and loved ones. Her story exemplifies the current crises happening in America: rising rates of maternal mortality and the silencing of Black voices.
After experiencing the unimaginable, Charles harnessed his pain and used it to pursue the highest level of good. He channeled his grief into founding 4Kira4Moms, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving birth outcomes in America. Charles knows childbirth should be empowering and free of fear for all mothers. 4Kira4Moms advocates for improved maternal health policies and regulations, educates about the impact of maternal mortality in our communities, provides support to victims’ loved ones, and approaches maternal mortality as a human rights issue. Mothers are the very framework of our society. They teach us how to love unconditionally and are willing to protect the most vulnerable among us. The loss of even one at the hands of an unjust system robs our country of what it needs most.
Charles has used his voice and story to advocate for change at countless events and media appearances all over the country. He is a board member of March for Moms and serves as Chairman of the Fairness of Injured Patients Act, which seeks to restore the rights of victims of medical negligence in California. Charles has testified twice before Congress and helped pass key legislation including: the Preventing Maternal Death Act of 2018, the Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021, and the California Momnibus. He is currently working with Congress to pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, an unprecedented set of bills addressing every aspect of the maternal health crisis happening in America. Charles was also honored by Oprah Winfrey on OWNSpotlight’s 2020 fatherhood special entitled, “Honoring our Kings – Celebrating Black Fatherhood.”
In addition to his advocacy work, Charles is busy raising his two beautiful boys, Charles V and Langston, who keep their mothers’ spirit alive powerfully every day.
Learn more about 4Kira4Moms