City officials recently kicked off this year’s Black History Month with a focus on improving healthcare for Everett’s African-American residents.
“Health and wellness has always been a cornerstone of my life,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria during the February 2 event.
A premier proponent of healthy living, the city received the Culture of Health Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2015. Yet, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Public Health, the COVID-19 vaccination rate remains low for Everett’s African-American residents.
However, DeMaria said such issues will be resolved under his new three-part diversity initiative: Engage. Educate. Elevate.
In addition, Cathy Draine introduced herself as the city’s new director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “I will be here to stand with you,” she said. “We together will create the harmony that is necessary to strengthen us all.”
A “product of the Civil Rights Era,” Bishop Robert Brown, senior pastor of Zion Church Ministries, said racial injustice is still a significant problem 54 years later. “It’s unfortunate that we still have these issues,” he said, adding that African-Americans helped build the U.S. Capitol Building and the White House. “Black people have been involved in the United States since the Revolutionary War – we’re proud of our heritage. I’ve been the pastor of Zion for 42 years and I’ve seen the changes.”
Brown also spoke about the effort to bolster healthcare for Everett’s African-American community. “Healthcare is necessary,” he said. “We need to take this pandemic seriously.”