By Reverend Danté R. Quick, Ph.D.
In almost every major wellness category, the African-American community faces disproportionately negative impacts. What injures America, in general, devastates Black America in particular. Be it homeownership, violent interactions with law enforcement, or employment data, Black lives are consistently undervalued and disrespected. As the Pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC) for more than a decade, with one of the largest Black congregations in the City of Vallejo, it has been a singular focus of ours to connect the historic liberating faith of our ancestors to the present-day well-being of our community.
The crisis of COVID-19 has been the latest hit to an already ailing Black collective body. The number of positive diagnoses and deaths among our seniors has stolen a generation of wisdom that can no longer be passed to future generations. High hospitalization rates have derailed the economic health of many Black households. The closing of schools has impacted our youth in ways that will take years for us to understand. Indeed, the pandemic has piled pain on top of already pain-ridden people.
We are seeing a hesitancy from the Black community that is largely fueled by mis- and disinformation instead of science and facts. Reservations are understandable given the many ways our community has been mistreated by government institutions. But internet theories designed to distract and deceive cannot be allowed to divert us from the obligations we have to protect ourselves and those we love. With the advent of Black healthcare experts in every area of the system, the history of medical racism cannot impact us now as it did in the past. God can work through science and heal through the hands of health professionals.
I do not believe in asking my congregation to do anything that I am not willing to do first. I say with great pride that my entire family is vaccinated and doing our part to protect each other and our community. My children and I chose to do so to protect my mother, their grandmother. I hear, listen, and understand the community’s reservations. But I know firsthand, and can tell you with the utmost confidence, that the vaccines have been scientifically proven safe and effective, and they remain our best tools to end the pandemic.
When our State sought advocates for Black health, FMBC responded by partnering with Solano County and The Governor’s Office to provide life-saving access to COVID-19 vaccines. During our first vaccine clinic, we committed to offering 1,000 doses. The outreach was so well received that we distributed over 400 doses in the first few hours alone. We have since hosted an additional clinic, with the same results, and have scheduled to host more in the future.
Why are we doing this at FMBC? We have witnessed the pain and devastation this has caused our community. God would not have been pleased with our inaction, from the mass outbreaks at convalescent centers and high schools, to the deaths of loved ones. The vaccines are proven safe, completely free to receive, and the best chance we have to offer ourselves and those we love peace of mind, instead of the fear driven from this deadly virus.
I urge you to get vaccinated and do your part to end the pandemic. Come down to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at 1905 Florida St, Vallejo, CA 94590, or find an appointment on http://www.MyTurn.ca.gov, but get vaccinated as soon as possible. The sooner we all receive our vaccines, the sooner we can all worship together without the concern of COVID-19, and that future can’t come soon enough.
Reverend Dante R. Quick has been the Senior Pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Vallejo, California since 2011. Since his arrival, the church has had extraordinary growth both spiritually and numerically. Only eight weeks into his tenure, Reverend Quick and the Friendship family were featured on the front page of the Times-Herald as “one of the largest African-American congregations in Vallejo