Arkansas, located in the Southern region of the United States, ranks among the lowest in the nation in overall health outcomes and in cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Within Arkansas, place- and race-based disparities are quite profound, and rural residents and Blacks/African Americans fare the worst. Forty-one percent of Arkansans live in rural areas where socioeconomic distress, chronic disease risk factors, and social structural factors underlying these disparities have not changed in decades. Poverty and food insecurity are higher, and wages, employment opportunities and health care access are lower in rural than in urban Arkansas. Blacks/African Americans have the highest cancer and CVD mortality rates, the worst socioeconomic indicators, and have experienced enormous historic trauma, particularly in the Delta regions. To address this historical embedment of place- and race-based health inequities in Arkansas, the Center for Research, Health, and Social Justice (CRHS) uses a social justice framework to inform the development and implementation of a robust process for advancing novel multilevel and transdisciplinary research, engaging communities in equitable partnerships to address the root causes of chronic disease disparities, and building, training and mentoring a diverse and competent research workforce prepared to eliminate disparities in cancer and CVD.