Looking ahead to Black History Month

Local News

(WLAX/WEUX) – Today marks the first day of Black History Month and across the country, people are raising awareness of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the Black community. But they’re also celebrating the resilience of Black Americans who faced unprecedented challenges this past year. Nadia Romero looks back at the impact of COVID-19, protests, and history-making elections for black Americans.

A global pandemic, COVID-19 killing the father and grandfather of Detroit’s Keith Gambrell.

“It’s very frustrating, it’s heartbreaking. It’s bitter. It’s America,” said Gambrell.

The virus disproportionately impacting the black community, highlighting long-standing inequities in healthcare.

The CDC reports black Americans are dying at three times the rate of white Americans. In response, Thermo Fischer Scientific, a science equipment company, pledged 15-million dollars for tests and equipment to historically black colleges and universities in August.

Micah Brown, Howard medical student said, “This has gotten black and brown researchers so excited the community that’s given me so much growing up it’s really important to see more testing efforts being brought to D.C.”

Then, came the COVID-19 vaccines. Some black people hesitant to get the shot.

Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. Surgeon General said, “We know that lack of trust is a major cause of reluctance, especially in communities of color and that lack of trust is not without good reason, as the Tuskegee studies occurred in many of our lifetimes.”

Howard University encouraging confidence in the vaccine.

“I’m getting vaccinated to be an example to my community,” said one Howard student.

While battling a new pandemic, an old foe reared its ugly head again. Racism. Several states have now declared racism a public health emergency, acknowledging a painful past for black Americans that is still felt in the present day.

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other black Americans at the hands of police motivated a movement.

People spilling into the streets, demanding an end to police brutality and racial inequality. Channeling the civil rights movement of the 1960s. With the heartbreaking loss of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis.

A renewed push for legislative change. The congressional black caucus celebrating as the house passed a police reform bill named after George Floyd.
And urging more action.

Karen Bass said, “Protests spread around the world with people in other countries calling out human rights abuses in the united states.”

Big companies like Google and Yelp stepped up. Perfect timing for black business owners, shutting down in numbers twice as large as others during the pandemic. According to a report from the federal reserve bank of New York.

But for Atlanta’s ‘Slutty Vegan Restaurant’, before and during the pandemic, growing pandemonium for vegan burgers.

“It takes a village. You know I couldn’t be who I am by myself,” said Pinky Cole, Slutty Vegan Owner.

The business owner opened two more shops and a food truck. Just one glimmer of success in an unprecedented year. A year that included pain and protest after protest.

Marching all the way to the ballot box for a change.

Sharon Strange Lewis, Howard University Director of Alumni Relations said, “The black community came together and united to really put forth an effort to get everybody out to vote.”

In Mississippi, A nearly 40-year fight finally won to replace the confederate themed state flag.

Reuben Anderson, former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice said, “Black folks in this state, very proud. Young black folk don’t have this flag to look to for the rest of their lives.”

In Georgia, electing its first black U.S. Senator.

And nationally, a glass ceiling breaking. The first woman and person of color as Vice President. Another historic moment to add to the long list of accomplishments celebrated during Black History Month.

In Washington, I’m Nadia Romero.

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