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Life in these United States is tough enough without being badgered by government reports that give us both good news and not-so-good news. The latest such report released a few weeks ago by the Centers for Disease Control announced just how long young Americans can expect to live.

The good news: babies born in 2009 are expected to live longer than ever – till the ripe old age of 78.  Reportedly, improved medical treatments, vaccinations, and public health campaigns against smoking are having a beneficial effect on life spans. As such, American life expectancy is now longer – by several months – than projections calculated in 2008.

The not-so-good news: life expectancy for African-Americans didn’t rise at all. In fact, based on CDC findings, white babies born in 2009 can expect to celebrate a birthday in 2087, but black babies overall are expected to live only until 2082. On average, blacks will die nearly four and a half years earlier due to a range of health disparities and higher rates of homicide.

With this CDC report now on file, we identified several “exceptions” to the rule of black life expectancy—people who have stretched their lives over the course of three different centuries.

Daisey Bailey

113 years, 342 days

(March 30, 1896 – March 7, 2010 – verified)

Until her death, Bailey was the oldest living African American; however, there were conflicting reports as to whether she was the fourth or the fifth oldest person in the world. Born and raised in Watertown, TN, Bailey worked on a plantation there. In 1910, at age 14, she married Will Ready, who died in the 1930s. She also outlived a second husband—and all four of her children.

Secret to longevity: praying, loving, forgiving and eating lots of vegetables. She also drank whiskey.

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