Austin’s Sankofa Cultural Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave., hosted a tribute Thursday to poet and activist “Mama” Brenda Matthews, who died Nov. 20 of natural causes related to diabetes. Spoken word artists mentored and inspired by Chicago’s “Poet Queen” performed in her honor. The tribute also included testimonials and information about combating diabetes, which disproportionately affects the black community compared to other races.
Roughly 13 percent of black Americans aged 20 and older have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the community is 1.7 times more likely to have the disease as non-white Hispanics, according to the American Diabetes Association. Matthews, 55, battled the disease.
Poet Awthentik paid tribute to her mentor Thursday with a powerful performance. The poet said she was inspired by Matthews to go into schools to help kids, one of many endeavors Mama Brenda was involved in. Other performers included The Example Setters Youth Poetry Team. Austin businesswoman Patty Ringo, who catered the event, talked about her own battle to overcome diabetes, having changed her diet and losing more than 100 pounds in the process.