The coronavirus pandemic has exposed glaring health and economic disparities among communities of color – and the societal systems that are failing them. The disparate and devastating effects on Black and Brown people point to a more insidious disease and an underlying condition that has been long diagnosed – racism.

In response to the multitude of ways in which COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color, the Brown School and the Clark-Fox Policy Institute organized this series to elevate the voices of local leaders, physicians, researchers, advocates and activists.

The series serves as a platform for highlighting multiple perspectives and draws on community-based and evidence-based knowledge to address the challenges facing Black and Brown people. Speakers and participants share their insights into the scope of the issues, root causes, and recommendations for advancing racial and health equity.

Moderated by:

Cynthia Williams, Assistant Dean for Community Partnerships, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

Atia Thurman, Associate Director, Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

This program is offered in collaboration with the Brown School’s Open Classroom.

Part IX: COVID-19 and Race: Educational Equity in a New Era (August 13)

When COVID-19 forced schools to change how they facilitated learning, long-standing race and class divides in our educational systems became more distinct than ever. From access to food to access to technology, from early education to higher education, students of color faced greater disadvantages than their white peers due to a well-documented opportunity gap. Join us to hear from educators who have been championing educational equity since before the pandemic and are re-energized in their efforts to support student achievement. 

Watch the video recording of this robust discussion , featuring:

Sharonica Hardin-Bartley | Superintendent of Schools, School District of University City

Terry Harris | Executive Director of Student Services, Rockwood School District

Sherita Love | Founding Director, EdHub STL; Principal Education and Equity Strategist, ExpandED Equity Collaborative

Art McCoy | Superintendent, Jennings School District

Part VIII: The High Price of Economic Injustice (August 4)

Research suggests that Black and Hispanic individuals are among the groups likely to experience large increases in poverty rates as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Historically, Black households have been excluded from wealth-building opportunities – a national trend that is reflected in an appalling racial wealth gap: the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family.

In St. Louis, the Black median household income has remained at nearly half of the White household income since 2005. Combined with healthcare costs, furloughs and layoffs, overrepresentation in low-wage frontline jobs, lack of assets and access to emergency savings, Black families are looking at long-term generational impacts and a much harder road to economic recovery. With their livelihood and lives in jeopardy, Black St. Louisians are paying the high price of economic injustice.

However, there are efforts to enact policies that offer better protections against poverty. In Episode VIII of the series, data and policy analysts, researchers, and community builders, discussed how we might turn the tide against economic injustice and advance racial equity.

View the video recording here.


Pamela Chan | Associate Director, Social Policy Institute, Washington University in St. Louis

Karishma Furtado | Research & Data Catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson

Alexandra Morshed | Project Manager, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis

Tyrone Turner | Vice President of Housing and Asset Development, Better Family Life


#StillCompromising, Episode 4: Who Pays the Price of the COVID-19 Economic Crisis? (June 2020)

Black Families Were Hit Hard by the Pandemic. The Effects on Children May Be Lasting (July 2020)

Part VII: Youth Voice and Power (July 21)

The convergence of a global health crisis and racialized violence against black lives has given rise to what is being called the largest civil rights movement of our time – and our youth are on the frontline. Young leaders of all ages are shaping the movement, tapping into youth voice and power to disrupt systems of oppression. They are calling for the end of racism in its many forms, advocating for justice, and paving new pathways toward a future that is liberated from oppression.

Tune in and watch inspired and empowered young St. Louisans, ages 15 – 21 years, reflect on their experiences, discuss social justice, and share how they channel angst into action. 

Part VI: Talking to Children about Race & Social Justice (July 9)

The dual crises of the coronavirus pandemic and police violence have brought to light deep racial disparities in the U.S., igniting discussions about race, racism, and racial equity in households worldwide. Families find themselves grappling with difficult conversations and adults are looking for guidance on how to engage children, especially as they challenge their own biases, prejudices and behaviors that, intentional or not, sustain racism.

Many parents recognize that this moment presents a critical opportunity for families to consider their responsibility and commitment to advancing racial equity, and are hoping to find support in raising social-justice minded children.

During this panel discussion, parents, educators, entrepreneurs and advocates shared their experiences and insights, from talking with children about race to raising children with a racial equity lens.

What the recorded conversation here.


Mary Ferguson | Racial Justice Director, YWCA Metro St. Louis; Founder, North St. Louis Arts Council

Heather Fleming | Founder, In Purpose Educational Services; Author of My Black Friend Says . . . Lessons in Equity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency

Adelaide Lancaster | Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, We Stories; Board co-chair, Forward Through Ferguson

Alex Stallings | Director of Early Learning, Nine Network of Public Media; Advisory Board Member, Turn the Page STL

Guest Moderator:

Jason Heisserer | Head of School, Crossroads College Preparatory High School

Part V: Health and Economic Disparities in the Latinx Community (June 30)

Throughout the US, almost one third of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are Hispanic, and similar to African American populations, they are dying at significantly higher rates than White patients. Additionally, job loss is impacting Latinos and immigrant communities at higher rates, reaching a record high of almost 20%. 

The conditions that cause greater vulnerability to the virus are similar to those of other racial and ethnic minority groups – lack of adequate and equitable access to healthcare and nutrition, immense wealth and wage disparities, and over representation in “essential” or frontline industries. Historical oppression and racism have given rise to these conditions, and continue to drive insufficient responses to the urgent needs of underserved communities of color.

In this episode of COVID-19 and Race, community leaders, organizers, and researchers elevated critical issues, discussed interventions, and proposed solutions to disrupt the systems that create inequitable conditions for the Latinx community.

Video recording available here.


Diego Abente | President & CEO, Casa de Salud

Leopoldo J. Cabassa | Associate Professor; Co-director, Center for Mental Health Services Research, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

Deborah Salvo | Assistant Professor, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis; Faculty, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis; adjunct researcher and faculty member at the Nutrition and Health Research Center at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico

Alicia Hernandez | Community Organizer, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri; Board of Directors, Forward Through Ferguson

Part IV: Native Communities & COVID – Reflections of the Past & Outlooks for the Future (June 23)

COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Native communities across the United States. While these communities are not new to devastation from disease, trauma, and broken treaties, this latest public health crisis reveals deep roots of systemic injustices that have spanned hundreds of years.

Part IV of the series featured Native professionals who shed light on how the pandemic is impacting the communities they serve and offered their perspectives on creating a healthier, more equitable future.

Watch a recording of the discussion here.


Carol Colmenero, MSW (Navajo) | Family Advocacy Director, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

Sonya Tetnowski, MBAF (Makah) | Chief Executive Officer, Indian Healthcare Center of Santa Clara Valley

Robert McGhee, MSW (Poarch Band of Creek Indians) | Vice Chairman, Creek Indian Tribal Council

Jenifer Van Schuyver, MSW (Citizen Band Potawatomi) | Research Assistant, Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies

Co-moderated by Kellie Thompson (Seneca), Director, Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies.

This program is offered in partnership with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies and the Brown School’s Open Classroom series.

Part III: Political Action and Power in the Face of Adversity (June 11)

Black St. Louisans are diving deep into reservoirs of resilience to stabilize the health of their families and communities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite mounting challenges with health, housing, education, food and financial security, mobilizing for change remains at the forefront as communities organize to build power and battle the barriers to racial equity.

This conversation featured community leaders who are galvanizing efforts to protect the health, human, and democratic rights of Black citizens.

Video recording available here.


Jade Harrell  Executive producer of RareGem Productions; Emmy Award-winning speaker, producer, radio and television host

Charlene Mack  |  Organizer and Vice President of Movement Building, WEPOWER

Gena Gunn McClendon  |  Director of the Voter Access and Engagement and the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiatives at the Center for Social Development, Washington University in St. Louis

This event was sponsored by: Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Center for Social Development, WEPOWER, RareGem Productions, and the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

Part II: Mental Health and Emotional Well-being (May 28)

This panel features a powerful discussion regarding the mental health and emotional well-being of the Black community in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Conversation includes supporting the recovery and health of our community and insights for advancing racial and health equity in the region.

Video recording available here.

Rebeccah Bennett | Founder & Principal, Emerging Wisdom; Founder & Root Teacher, InPower Institute; Formerly Board co-Chair of Forward Through Ferguson and immediate past Board Chair of Generate Health

Bethany Johnson-Javois | Chief Executive Officer, St. Louis Integrated Health Network; Board Chair, Alive & Well Communities; Formerly the Managing Director of the Ferguson Commission

Heidi B. Miller, MD | Medical Director, St. Louis Regional Health Commission; Physician, Family Care Health Centers

Vetta Sanders-Thompson | E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity; Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis; Co-director, Center for Community Health Partnership and Research at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis

Part I: Disproportionate Impact on Health (April 28)

The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed glaring health and economic disparities among communities of color, and has been particularly dangerous for African Americans. According to CDC data, one third of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are African American, yet, African Americans only account for 13% of the U.S. population. At the root of this distressing disparity is not just underlying health conditions that put black Americans at elevated risk – diabetes, hypertension, obesity and asthma – but a host of factors tied to structural racism, including poverty, lack of access to healthcare, low-wage employment and chronic stress.

Video recording available here.

Guest speakers:

Angela Fleming Brown | Chief Executive Officer, St. Louis Regional Health Commission

David Dwight IV   | Executive Director & Lead Strategy Catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson

Sean Joe   | Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development; Associate Dean for Faculty and Research   Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis; Director, HomeGrown STL

Jason Purnell | Associate Professor, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis; Director, Health Equity Works

This event was sponsored by the Brown School, Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Forward Through Ferguson, HomeGrown STL, Health Equity Works, and the Social Policy Institute. 

Below you will find links to the initiatives, organizations, articles, and resources that were referenced during the series.


Prepare STL

PrepareSTL is a collaborative campaign to help prepare all St. Louisans for the effects of the COVID-19 response, how to stop its spread, and how to survive the pandemic physically, emotionally and economically.

The Regional Response Team  

The Regional Response Team seeks to create a centralized system of response to meet social needs of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic in the St. Louis region. If your organization would like information on joining the Regional Response Team, please email your contact information to

Voting & Elections

Voting is a civic responsibility. It is one of most important political and hard-won rights, and an effective means by which citizens participate in the democratic process and influence policy in their communities, states, and in the nation.

Voting in St. Louis County

Voting in the City of St. Louis

Voting in the State of Missouri

Advancing racial equity during the time of COVID-19

Link to resources that have been curated by staff, faculty and students at the Brown School who want to advance change, while being mindful to protect public health.


The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Black and African American Communities in the St. Louis Region (new report)

A new report collaboratively authored by several local health entities and Institute for Public Health Faculty Scholars and released by the American Hospital Association shows a disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black and African American individuals in the St. Louis Region.

Inequity and COVID-19

This site is host to articles and research from the Brown School Community, as well as a list of community and government resources.

City of St. Louis Data

The latest COVID-19-related data and maps for the City of St. Louis

St. Louis County Data

Dashboard of data that reflect cases entered into Missouri’s communicable disease surveillance database

Centers for Disease Control Data

Cases, Data, & Surveillance – updated regularly

National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center:  COVID-19 Data – Situation Summary (June 8, 2020)


COVID-19 demonstrates why wealth matters (July 6)

#StillCompromising, Episode 4 | Who Pays the Price of the COVID-19 Economic Crisis? (July 1)

Latino Impact Report by the League of United Latin American Citizens

COVID-19 Impact on Indigenous Peoples in the U.S. (June 9)

Sick alone, mourning alone: COVID-19 hits the elderly and African Americans the hardest in Missouri (June 8)

There’s a Racial Gap Even in Bereavement (April 14)

Black Business Owners in St. Louis Worry They May Not Survive The Coronavirus Crisis (May 28)

The Federal Government Fiddles as Covid-19 Ravages Native Americans (May 26, 2020)

Who is an “Essential” Worker – Still Compromising, Episode 3 (May 20)

Who Gets Sickest From COVID-19 – Episode 2 of Still Compromising (May 8)

Still Compromising: The Disparate Impact of COVID-19 in St. Louis – Episode 1 (How We Know) Who Gets Sick (April 22)

COVID-19 and Black STL (May 12)

Racial toll of coronavirus grows even starker in St. Louis and across the nation (April 18)

Purnell to Lead St. Louis Team Responding to COVID-19 (April 13)

COVID-19 and ‘structural racism’ – Blacks being infected at much higher rates, getting far sicker (April 8)

All 12 COVID-19 deaths in the City of St. Louis were black (April 8)

We Don’t Need a Map to Tell Us Who COVID-19 Hits the Hardest in St. Louis (April 6)

WashU Expert: Don’t overlook health equity during coronavirus crisis (March 23)

Watch / Listen

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Racial, Gender and Generational Wealth Gaps (May 28)

Under The Arch, S2 Ep. 5 COVID-19 in St. Louis ft. Dr. Jason Purnell (ArchCity Defenders and Action St. Louis present the premiere collaborative podcast, “Under The Arch”)

Beyond COVID-19 Data: What Can St. Louis Do To Bring About Health Care Equity? (St. Louis Public Radio, April 27)

St. Louis is No Exception. COVID-19 Reveals the Inequities in Health Care Here (St. Louis Public Radio, April 13)

Racial Equity: a future state where life outcomes in the St. Louis region cannot be predicted by race. It also describes the process of shifting our regional systems (education, housing, healthcare, jobs, justice, and more) to work well for all people—so that disparities are closed and all residents, regardless of their race and zip code, have justice and the opportunity to thrive.   

Forward Through Ferguson