Color of Health Initiative seeks equal access to testing and creation of comprehensive community-wide support network as matter of justice as we seek to suppress COVID-19.
Cleveland, OH – June 25, 2020 –Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), the largest community power organization in Northeast Ohio, has launched a community-based campaign to test thousands across Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to contain the spread of COVID-19, with an emphasis on African American populations and other at-risk groups.
The campaign, known as the Color of Health Initiative, has recruited 18 congregations that will serve as sites for free testing through a partnership with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and MetroHealth Systems. The Initiative is being co-chaired by GCC members and Cleveland pastors, Rev. Jawanza Karriem Colvin, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church; Rev. Ronald Maxwell, Affinity Missionary Baptist Church; and Rev. James Quincy, Lee Road Baptist Church.
Public health research and experts have pointed out the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on the poor and communities of color, exposing the inequities and injustices that GCC has been building power to correct since its founding. “There is an intersecting point between where race, poverty and this virus meet and it is ground zero for the worst of this pandemic,” says Rev. Colvin. “We aim to meet it head-on.”
GCC is also conducting a community-wide survey of its member congregations and the surrounding communities as research for organizing people to ensure public and private resources are directed toward the individuals and families most adversely affected by the virus and the socio-economic impact on households. “Much of the world has demonstrated that the resources and expertise exist to not simply slow the virus, but suppress it,” says Rev. Maxwell. “We must act together now to ensure that those resources are brought to bear within communities facing the greatest threat.”
The survey will enable persons across the city and county to provide first-person feedback on their experience with the virus and its implications on their social stability and financial well-being. GCC plans to utilize this information to identify strategies and action steps that will serve as effective tools to support affected individuals and families who may be subject to financial and social disruption due to exposure to COVID-19. In addition, the survey will provide important on-the-ground data that will be used in meetings with state and local public officials to improve the COVID-19 response in public policy, public health and public dollars. “Our community is in dire need of support to overcome the negative economic, emotional and physical effects of COVID-19,” says Rev. Quincy. “We are working to deliver critical support.”
Since its founding in 2011, GCC has been an organization committed to building community power for change. With member congregations and organizations across the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, GCC brings together people across race, religion and region to take on tough issues like criminal justice reform, education, health care and jobs to get real results that make a real difference.