Senate District 15
Hearcel F. Craig
Craig and Williams Urge Senate Committee to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis
June 9, 2020

Today, state Senators Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) and Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) provided sponsor testimony on Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, which would declare racism a public health crisis in Ohio, in front of the Health, Human Services and Medicaid committee.

“Ohio has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to declare racism a public health crisis,” said Craig. “We will not be able to more forward and prosper, if we don’t guarantee opportunities to every resident, regardless of their race. We can be trailblazers and provide equity to all Ohioans.”

SCR 14 highlights racial disparities in health care, education and housing as well as in access to economic opportunities and technology. By declaring racism a public health crisis, the Ohio General Assembly would acknowledge that racism impacts all members of our society and deserves action from all levels of government.

“The problems we are facing today are not Black Americans’ problems or White Americans’ problems, they are America’s problems,” said Williams. “I am well aware that the state legislature cannot legislate morality, but we can put in place policies that provide recourse for the wrongs that are playing out in our state and our country. By passing this resolution we will be sending a strong message to federal, state and local officials that racist practices will not be tolerated.”

SCR 14 calls for the following actions:

  • Establishing a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity

  • Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire community

  • Incorporating educational efforts to address and dismantle racism, and expand understanding of racism and how racism affects individual and population health

  • Promoting community engagement, actively engaging citizens on issues of racism, and providing tools to engage actively and authentically with communities of color

  • Committing to review all portions of codified ordinances with a racial equity lens

  • Committing to conduct all human resources, vendor selection and grant management activities with a racial equity lens including reviewing all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotions, leadership appointments and funding

  • Promoting racially equitable economic and workforce development practices

  • Promoting and encouraging all policies that prioritize the health of people of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systematic racism and mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experience and trauma Training of all elected officials, staff, funders and grantees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them

  • Partnering and building alliances with local organizations that have a legacy and track record of confronting racism

  • Encouraging community partners and stakeholders in the education, employment, housing, and criminal justice and safety arenas to recognize racism as a public health crisis and to activate the above items

  • Securing adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities.


“For centuries, Ohio laws have explicitly, implicitly and unintentionally impacted African American minorities,” said Craig. “The impact of Black Laws, Jim Crow, segregation and red-lining still deeply affect African American and minority communities throughout our state. We recognize that this resolution is a much needed first step towards racial equity.”

Racism was first declared a public health crisis by Franklin County Public Health. A similar resolution was then adopted by Franklin County and by the cities of Columbus and Cleveland. If enacted by the General Assembly, Ohio would be the first state to declare racism as a public health crisis.



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