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On the Move: Black Coalition Against COVID

Celebrating a Year of Leading the Charge Against COVID-19 in the Black Community

The Black Coalition Against COVID (BCAC) was birthed on Easter Sunday at the pandemic’s inception. This article highlights year one as BCAC launches a series on COVID-19 and the Black community in The Washington Informer. BCAC was created to focus on every aspect of COVID-19 from amplifying the voices of Black communities, healthcare professionals and leading medical organizations to vaccine acceptance. BCAC’s co-founder, Dr. Reed Tuckson, served as D.C.’s Commissioner of Public Health during the AIDS epidemic. Thus, he recognized that a worldwide epidemic like AIDS or COVID-19 requires a robust, grassroots campaign that partners and works with the government.

“When I realized the magnitude of COVID-19 and the impact it would have on the Black community I remembered the words of one of my heroes, Dr. Calvin Rolark: ‘No people but a people can save a people,’” Dr. Tucson said. “So, I reached out and was fortunate to enlist a group of like-minded people from the faith community, organized labor, business community, community-based organizations, Howard University, artists, seasoned public health professionals and more to help co-found BCAC.”

BCAC’s purpose is to provide compassionate, trustworthy and science-based information to the Black community to help individuals make educated decisions for themselves, their families and their communities. BCAC has fulfilled this and much more. BCAC’s accomplishments include engaging the D.C. community-based leadership to work collaboratively, providing reliable, myth-busting information and creating momentum to fight COVID-19. Through these partnerships, BCAC led the charge while working to support the community.

The goal is building trust, listening and ensuring people feel respected. BCAC answers questions, addresses myths and tackles vaccine hesitancy stemming from the history of egregious medical research abuse with the Black community. BCAC has supported the D.C. government in keeping the fight against COVID-19 front and center by routine use of PSAs, community meetings, town halls and various forums. For example, BCAC’s “Poetry Slam” and “iMask4DC” film contest allowed D.C. residents to share important outreach messages. Often these collaborations began within D.C. but have expanded nationally.

BCAC created a National Health Coalition involving the four Black medical schools: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Me harry Medical College, and Morehouse School of Medicine; the National Medical Association; the National Black Nurses Association; the National Urban League; and the premier digital medical publisher, BlackDoctor.org.

The coalition has become a national leader in supplying Black communities with access to federal health professionals and experts, accompanying African-American physicians and researchers providing current and factual information concerning the pandemic.

For BCAC, the work has just begun. “It Ain’t Over!” as BCAC often says.

“Our goals are to continue to be passionate in expressing our undying love for Black people in ways that give our community the best chance of surviving this unprecedented pandemic,” Dr. Tucson said. “Specifically, doubling efforts to partner with community-based organizations and community leaders and advocating for infrastructures necessary to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines that are essential to Black survival.”

For more information visit the BCAC website at https://blackcoalitionagainstcovid.org, or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BCAC19, Instagram and Twitter: @bcagainstcovid.

Article contributed by Natasha Joseph (admin@blackcoalitionagainstcovid.org), a doctoral candidate at Howard University studying development and public policy and an intern for BCAC assisting with media and publications. She is also a “Double Gator” graduate of the University of Florida and has written articles for several outlets including Gainesville’s “The Alligator” and the Journal of Haitian Studies.

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