racism

In the U.S. more than 700 women die each year while pregnant or shortly after giving birth, and an alarming number of them are black. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), black women in Florida are two times as likely to die while or after giving childbirth compared to white women.

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive.

In February 2009, Samantha Pierce became pregnant with twins. It was a time when things were going really well in her life.

She and her husband had recently gotten married. They had good jobs.

"I was a kick-ass community organizer," says Pierce, who is African-American and lives in Cleveland. She worked for a nonprofit that fought against predatory lending. The organization was growing, and Pierce had been promoted to management.

The day Dr. Roberto Montenegro finished his Ph.D. was memorable. But not for the right reasons.

"I still cringe when I think about it," says Montenegro.

It had started well. His colleagues at UCLA had taken him and his girlfriend (now wife) out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate.