GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Grand Rapids urged the Black community in West Michigan to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously following the death of a young girl during a press conference Tuesday.
Cle Jackson, chapter president, spoke alongside health professionals.
“Folks we have to take this extremely, extremely seriously, have to take this extremely personal, this is personal to us, more now so than ever,” said Jackson. “We lost one of our own.”
On Sunday, Honestie Hodges, a 14-year-old girl from Grand Rapids and member of the NAACP Youth Council, died from COVID-19. Her family says she received the diagnosis earlier this month on her birthday.
“A 14-year-old young princess, who had an incredible and remarkable life ahead of her,” said Jackson.
In 2017 Grande Rapids police handcuffed and held Honestie, then 11, at gunpoint, during a search for a stabbing suspect. GRPD did not discipline any officers involved, but the incident inspired “The Honestie Policy” which changed how officers interact with kids at crime scenes.
“All of the folks who showed up and expressed interest, when Honestie was held at gunpoint, this is an opportunity for you to really honor her life, fully honor her life, by doing what is necessary, what is needed,” said Jackson. “Limit your movement. We have to.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Black Americans 2.6% more likely to be hospitalized or die from Coronavirus. In Michigan, state data shows they comprise 12 percent of cases and 31 percent of deaths, despite making up 14 percent of the state’s population. However, those numbers are lower than at previous points during the pandemic.
“Take responsibility for your fellow brothers and sisters,” said Jackson. “That means wearing masks, that means wearing gloves when you're on in public it's necessary. That means washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. That means also imposing a self lock down we don't have to wait for an executive order in order to protect our community”
The NAACP will offer free testing December 5th at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.
To donate to cover medical expenses for the Hodges family, click here.