MLK workshop urges others to receive COVID-19 vaccine, reach out to younger generation

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One of the presenters was a local infectious disease specialist

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An interesting intersection occurred Monday between the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the global pandemic that seems to affect certain minorities more than the rest of us.

More than 100 people took part virtually in an annual workshop held on the holiday. There were breakout sessions on things like criminal justice, health care and youth empowerment.

The event started on Sunday with a service.

One of the presenters was local infectious disease specialist Dr. Virginia Banks. Her session focused on health care in the African American community, urging those attending to act. She called them “trusted messengers” about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

“If 106 of you touch five to 10 other people and tell them about this, we can increase our vaccine rates. When the vaccine becomes available to us, that is something that we can do and continue to partner with faith-based organizations,” Banks said. “There is a disparity here with these people that are getting infected, not just older people but African Americans. We’re the first minority who we started to see an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.”

Banks said she’s concerned that only one-third of the vaccine delivered so far has been administered, claiming many don’t want it.

Speaker Bryant Youngblood, with the Academy for Urban Scholars, talked about youth empowerment, explaining how reaching out to the younger generation is critical.

“The first thing we want to do is begin teaching the young people how to maximize their potential. A lot of them are faced with stigma within themselves about who they are,” he said.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mahoning Valley Planning Committee sponsored Monday’s workshop.

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