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Black Southern Women’s Collaborative Urges Unused ARPA Dollars to Go to Community-Centered Public Health and Gun Violence-Reduction Strategies

For Immediate Release

May 16, 2022


ATLANTA – The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative (BSWC) today called for trauma-informed and culturally relevant mental health services for Buffalo, New York, following the white supremacist terrorist attack at a Tops grocery store. Members of the group also urged local officials to direct American Rescue Program Act funds to community-centered public health and gun violence-reduction strategies. The entity issued the following statement:

“Healing doesn’t happen overnight,” said the Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida, organizer for LIVE FREE Florida and member of the BSWC. “It is a day-by-day process. I know this from losing a loved one to gun violence and also from supporting the Parkland community in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Florida. We need to be mindful that everyone coming into our community is not safe. We must also be mindful of the impact of this trauma on young people, who are hurting. We need to be conscious and patient with them. We don’t want our young people arrested for reacting to trauma – we have to offer them trauma-informed support.”

BSWC joined the gun violence intervention and prevention group LIVE FREE in making four demands:

  • Provide fully funded mental health and healing services for Buffalo’s Masten neighborhood, prioritizing Black therapists and doctors.
  • Activate Victims of Crime Funds to support families and residents in impacted neighborhoods that are coping with gun violence.
  • Leverage unused American Rescue Plan Act dollars for public health and community-centered peace and public safety strategies.
  • Call for New York Governor Kathy Hochul to fully fund violence prevention strategies.

“We join our LIVE FREE partner in noting that there is currently no apparatus for culturally relevant and culturally competent mental health services for Black communities,” said Tameka Greer, executive director of Memphis Artists for Change and a BSWC member. “It does not exist. There is no coordinated network of Black mental health networks although our communities are being devasted. There may be a two-day response, but healing doesn’t happen overnight, especially given the compounded trauma of COVID-19, job loss and trauma related to gun violence in our communities.” Greer is also a peace pursuer with LIVE FREE in Memphis, Tennessee.


The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative is a network of Black women executive directors in the South who share resources, insights, communications and other strategies to improve the material conditions for Black people in the South. The group is designed to be a soft space for Black women leaders where members are valued not only for what they do but for who they are.



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