Public speaking

Stay Well Celebrates the Legacy of Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Harry Blake

For Lashonda Diouf, a long-time member of Mount Canaan Baptist Church, the recent Stay Well Harry Blake Empowerment Health Fair & Vaccination Event held a special place in her heart.  

“This event is important for a lot of reasons, but most importantly because of Dr. Harry Blake, who was a long-time pastor at Mount Canaan,” she said. “I’ve been a member of Mount Canaan since I was nine and I’m 53 now. Dr. Blake stood for so much. We affectionately called him ‘Daddy.’ And one thing he was big on is community involvement and health awareness. I know if he was still living today, he would be on the front line fighting for a cure for this COVID-19 virus because that’s who he was.”  

Dr. Harry Blake’s Legacy and Leadership 

Dr. Harry Blake served as a leader during the civil rights movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and as a pastor.  For more than 52 years, Dr. Blake was also the beloved Pastor for Mount Canaan Baptist Church in  Shreveport, Louisiana and lived a life fighting for justice and racial equality. In April 2020, Dr. Blake passed away after being diagnosed with COVID-19.   

“We were very blessed to be a part of health fairs growing across the nation. We feel it was God-given because it’s on the same weekend that we are honoring the life and legacy of our former pastor, Dr. Harry Blake, who was an icon not only in our community but across the nation,” said Burnadine Moss Anderson, event coordinator for the health fair. “Pastor Blake was first a preacher and a teacher, but he was also a civil rights icon. He worked as a field secretary for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”   

Advocacy in the Face of COVID  

The Stay Well Harry Blake Empowerment Health Fair and Vaccination Event brought together several local organizations in support of vaccinations in the Black community including W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, LSU Health Shreveport Area Health Education Centers, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Lambda Omega Chapter, Sigma Rho Omega Chapter, Martin Luther King Community Development Corporation, the City of Shreveport, National Medical Association, LSU Health Shreveport, Southern University Shreveport Louisiana, the National Pan-Hellenic Council Shreveport Chapter and many more.

Medical professionals, elected officials and the community gathered outside at Mount Canaan Baptist Church for a panel of discussions, COVID-19 vaccinations, health screenings and a tribute to Dr. Harry Blake.  

“This is a phenomenal event,” said Dr. Leonard Weather, obstetrician-gynecologist and past president of the National Medical Association. “One, it’s giving love. And, two, it’s providing the truth and facts, which is what people need. They need to make sure that they are in the best position possible to be able to make a meaningful decision about whether or not to get vaccinated.”  

Dr. Weather was one of many medical professionals on site who addressed misinformation and answered questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. The program also included conversations from COVID-19 survivors who shared their experience and journey to recovery.  

Making an Impact  

45 vaccines were administered at the event.  

“If I can give encouragement to those who are hesitant to get vaccinated, I can say that my husband is a survivor of COVID-19 and even though he was stricken with a stroke, he still chose to be vaccinated. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that he’s going to have the quality of life that we pray for,” said Diouf. “If you don’t do it for you, do it for your children. Do it for your grandparents. Do it for those who fought for us to have the right to be able to be vaccinated. Just do what you can to save everybody’s community. COVID is not just about you, it’s about everyone that you come in contact with.”  

Search, text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a vaccine site near you.  For more resources and toolkits to help you build vaccine confidence in your community, visit the We Can Do This website to learn more about ways to protect you and yourself.