Walker warns of bumpy road in communities of color

Cites ‘troublesome trust factor’ in country, communities

REV. LIZ WALKER of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church said on Wednesday that she was honored to be a part of the state’s effort to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine – she called it “a piece of history” – but she warned that it won’t be easy in communities of color.

“We are aware of the troublesome trust factor in our country and in many communities,” she said at a State House press conference with Gov. Charlie Baker and other officials. “We know that trust cannot be earned in one news conference or in one statement, but we are all committed to the work of engaging residents and community leaders in as many ways as we can and be a part of this effort.”

Walker, who serves on the governor’s vaccine advisory panel, said the coronavirus pandemic has accentuated the fears of people of color. “I work specifically with a group of people who have been traumatized by violence, by racism, by systems, by history, and so they suffer disproportionately anyway,” she said.

Walker recently hosted Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for a virtual talk about COVID-19 that attracted more than 2,000 people. Walker said Fauci’s speech highlighted for her the challenges facing Massachusetts and the nation in convincing people of color to take the vaccine.

”Most people were impressed that Dr. Fauci showed up to speak directly to the community,” Walker said. “He was there. He showed up.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

But Walker said Fauci didn’t sway everyone. In an informal survey of less than 20 of her parishioners, Walker said about half were impressed with what they heard and inspired to learn more and the other half remained skeptical.

“That’s probably indicative of a lot of people in our communities,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of skepticism still. It’s going to take a lot of work….My prayer is that I have earned enough trust in my community to help people make good decisions.”