**FILE** (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Dr. Reed Tuckson is relentless about the COVID-19 virus. He is unmistakably clear that everyone, especially Black Americans, needs to take the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster, too.

Tuckson is the vigilant leader of Blacks Against COVID-19, a national organization that provides trustworthy, reliable and relatable information to minority communities on all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization states that it also arranges direct services in the Washington, D.C. region and nationally.

Dr. Tuckson did not mince his words this week, as well, when he warned members of the MLK Holiday DC Committee of the repercussions of holding a march into Ward 8. Residents of Ward 8, he reminded them, represent the area with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in D.C., the highest number of deaths resulting from COVID-19 and the area with the lowest number of residents vaccinated. 

His words reverberated loudly throughout the planning of the MLK Holiday DC events. Organizers pondered if their decision to host a march was irresponsible. How would they keep people safe from COVID-19 or the Omicron variant, and what message could they leave encouraging Ward 8 residents to fight the pandemic with all their might?

We agree with Dr. Tuckson that COVID-19 must be taken seriously and that it is a deadly disease. If masks, social distancing and taking the vaccine protect lives, then wear a mask, keep your distance and take the doggone vaccine. A strong message needs to remind residents that the deaths of COVID-19 in D.C. are mostly among Black people of all ages. And that they must take all precautions to help stop the spread of the virus.

We also agree with Martin Luther King III, who has asked all Americans to join him in the fight on the holiday named after his beloved father to fight for voting rights. January 17 is the day that members of the Senate may vote on two voting rights bills and help to restore the Voting Rights Act.  

During a speech in Atlanta Tuesday, President Joe Biden said, “The United States Supreme Court has weakened the Voting Rights Act in recent years.  And now the defeated former president and his supporters use the Big Lie about the 2020 election to fuel torrent and torment and anti-voting laws — new laws designed to suppress your vote, to subvert our elections.

“I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them and vote. Let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.” 

We share the sentiment that all efforts must be made to stop the COVID-19 virus from killing our community. And we also understand that a strong message must be sent to protect every American’s right to vote. Both issues can be addressed together on one day, demanding that those who have the power and the ability must restore voting rights while protecting themselves from COVID-19.

It can be done. It must be done. On January 17, it will be done.

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