Many localities and states across the country have declared racism as a public health crisis, offering an opportunity to observe these declarations as a natural case study of moving policy to action. This trend begs the question: what happens after communities take this foundational step toward changing local policies and systems that underlie racial inequities?

The BUILD Health Challenge (BUILD) and its partner ChangeLab Solutions, along with invited CARE partners, participated in an open conversation about these declarations and how communities are using them to take action. This hour-long session started by grounding the work, followed by defining relevant terms and frameworks. Next the panelists shared strategies and examples from communities all over the country that are using these policy declarations to address structural racism. We were also joined by two local staff who share their own experiences developing, adopting, and implementing a declaration at the county level.


Discussion on how policy declarations are spurring actions around the country to address one of the fundamental drivers of health and equity structural racism.

Speakers included:

  • Sara Bartel, JD and Cesar De La Vega, JD from ChangeLab Solutions
  • Professor Ruqaiijah Yearby, JD, MPH and Crystal Lewis, JD, MPH from the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity
  • Dawn Hunter, JD, MPH from the Network for Public Health Law
  • Briana Stone, MSPH from the American Public Health Association (APHA)
  • Jamin A. Johnson, MS, CHES and Andy J. Wessel, MPH from the Douglas County Health Department, Nebraska


Topics discussed included:

Asset Framing
  • What has been the greatest existing asset to the process of implementing a community declaration/policy?
  • Who are the existing champions/resources in a community when it comes to addressing racism?
Community Power
  • How did community advocates and community members shape the process, the declaration, and/or implementation?
  • What examples from other upstream efforts might inform how a policy process could honor community power?


Our hope is that the information shared here will help those part of a community that already has declared racism a public health crisis, or those simply exploring what such a statement would mean for them and their community.


Click here to access an auto-generated English-language transcript of the session.

Click here to access a Spanish-language transcript of the session. (Coming soon)