The community conversations campaign “You Matter” kicked off on May 28, promoting a positive message for members of the African American and Hispanic-Latinx populations about their shared and brighter future together in Milwaukee.

The Stronger Together Collective organize and launch the new social initiative. The campaign’s goal seeks to ensure that communities of color stay informed, inspired, and hopeful as they continue to be negatively impacted by the current pandemic.

The group of Milwaukee advocates created the “You Matter” campaign, or “Cuidate” en espanol, as a platform for virtual conversation between community members, social advocates, and the local government. The ongoing conversations include a panel of respected local figures, highlighting the importance of building more awareness and advocacy to address the impact racial inequities continue to have in black and brown communities.

Through “You Matter” messaging, the collective wants members of the African American and Hispanic-Latinx communities to know that they are all in this together, and the combined effort can slow the devastating effects the COVID-19 health crisis is having in their communities.

“It is important to understand this is not only a public awareness campaign. What we are launching today is a movement that will last well beyond this current situation by building stronger connections and engagements throughout the community and our Milwaukee neighborhoods,” said Elmer Moore, co-leader. “We want people who are most affected at this time, and who continue to be the most impacted because of the effects of longstanding structural racial disparities, to know You Matter. Your Family Matters. We ALL Matter.”

The City of Milwaukee Health Department is the community engagement partner to help drive the collective’s work forward. With the catalytic support of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, additional members of the collective represent leaders from area health systems, community businesses and entrepreneurs, and local school systems.

“Our diverse communities are often served best if we let them lead the way. It is powerful to have Hispanic and African Americans come together to address a common issue; the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on communities of color. And in our support of one another, create a campaign that celebrates our differences by resonating with the unique needs of each of our communities,” shared Nancy Hernandez, president of the Hispanic Collaborative.

The individuals and organizations came together for this campaign to create more awareness and to instill hope in their communities by leading intentional, meaningful, and sustainable change. Through their focus on “You Matter,” they are rising up and expressing that communities of color matter now, tomorrow, and always.

“This pandemic is further revealing the institutional racism that has persisted in Milwaukee and the U.S. for hundreds of years and it is exacerbating the harm inflicted on generations of people and families,” said Laura Glawe, vice president, Communications with Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “Ending the cycle of racism and inequity benefits all of us. We are proud to support the You Matter campaign and Stronger Together Collective, because this work not only helps bring attention to these longstanding systems and policy failures, it is building hope by encouraging and advocating for change in our communities of color.”

This effort is the direct result of a need for culturally relevant outreach for communities of color across Milwaukee County. The need is beyond necessary because of the racial and ethnic disparities of COVID-19 infection and fatalities that demonstrate historic disinvestment and various forms of racism.

“We understand that various forms of violence including domestic are on the rise since the pandemic, and we are committed to interventions that will provide safe and healthy environments for communities of color,” said Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES.

With the campaign’s launch, the Stronger Together Collective messaging highlights “You Matter: The future is brighter with you.” The supporting materials are being disseminated through social media, broadcast, and other online outlets. Additional placements are also being launched on billboards, provided through community postings and other local media in the coming weeks and months.

Well-known local artists and athletes are also coming to the table to join the efforts to stand by Milwaukee and let their communities know “They Matter.”

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January 2020. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following year, we have published hundreds of articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
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