Civil rights icon says vestiges of Jim Crow haunt the COVID-19 vaccination process

COVID-19 Vaccine

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — “What is wrong with me?” That was the question teenager Patricia Turner posed when she was taunted, spat upon, and pushed as she integrated Norfolk Public Schools in 1959 following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

More than 60 years later, Turner, a member of the Norfolk 17, posed that question again after several failed attempts to get an appointment for the coronavirus vaccine. Turner called 10 On Your Side, a Virginia Beach woman volunteered to help and the next day the civil rights icon received the vaccine. 10 On Your was on hand to record another historic event in Turner’s life.

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

Today, Turner says she is is “free at last…free at last.”

“I noticed that I can go more places; I can do more things and I can talk directly to people,” said Turner.

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

Talking directly is exactly what Turner plans to do Friday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to noon when Turner and her church, pastored by Dr. Earl James Eaddy, Sr., will co-sponsor a mobile vaccination clinic in the parking lot of the historic church in the Oakwood section of Norfolk.

“They need somewhere where they can walk to where they feel comfortable somewhere where they know somebody who has already received it and is doing well,” said Turner, who is 76 years old and says she feels better than ever.

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

Oakwood, with less than 35% vaccinated is one of several areas flagged by the state as underserved.

Turner says the vestiges Jim Crow continue to haunt the vaccination process.

“The Black community has been treated so horribly and with a negative reaction to us, it has made us afraid of everything. We don’t feel that we are getting the same vaccine as a white person sitting next to us,” said Turner on the front lawn of Oakwood Chapel Disciples of Christ.

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

Annie Allbritton, the co-director of the nearby Oakwood Academy & Daycare agrees.

A lot of people are still skeptical they are not going in as they should,” said Allbritton.

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

The mobile clinic, co-sponsored by Turner and the church, is one of several clinics on a roll that will visit underserved communities in the coming weeks. Three mass vaccination sites in the region will close next week as less than 15% of Black residents across the state have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Turner is eager to help walk others through the process.

“So I want them to know it’s OK; please come. I will be there and I will hold your hand if you need it,” said Turner.

The June 18 clinic takes place in the parking lot of Oakwood Chapel Church at 982 Avenue E.
It is free and no appointments are needed. For more information call 877-829-4682.

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