Southern Strong is a partnership of Southern organizations and scholars calling for an equity-centered, people-first response to COVID-19. Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the social and economic inequities shouldered by people of color and workers making low wages. Combating this public health threat and mitigating the economic fallout will require coordination among neighboring states and bolstering public services. Given the South’s history of poor, limited worker protections, and structural racism carried out by various discriminatory policies and practices, equitable and targeted access to these public resources must be a priority.
Today, policy organizations, grassroots groups, and scholars offer a shared vision for the region’s COVID-19 response.
UNDERSTANDING THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides $130 billion in federal funding directly to local governments. This unprecedented level of aid will help communities across the US shape their recovery from the COVID-19 recession. Local leaders should view the arrival of ARP funds as a critical opportunity to make investments that both encourage recovery and accelerate progress towards long-term goals.
In the Southeast, the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 exacerbated structural inequalities. Our region’s local governments should direct their ARP funds toward strategic and sustainable recovery initiatives that benefit all community members. Our goal is to advance policies that improve economic security, healthcare access, and environmental justice for all Southerners.
We are a collection of Southern organizations and scholars seeking an equitable and people-first response to economic recovery in a post-pandemic South. Below is a statement of shared values for moving the South from crisis to equity.
JOIN STATEMENT: We have agreed to work together on a shared approach to make policymakers and stakeholders aware of and accountable for the social and economic inequities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic — one that is based on respect, dignity, equity, and justice.
While each of us launches our own efforts to promote actionable responses to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have agreed to the following principles as we affirm our Southern values.
COVID-19 does not adhere to local, state, or national boundaries. Communities must work together with government for a full picture of what’s happening on the ground and what improvements are needed. We understand the need for close coordination and collaboration to ensure that the response to COVID-19 is equitable, accountable, and transparent.
THE COMMUNITY NEEDS SURVEY
The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) is working to help communities access COVID recovery funding that is being distributed through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). We want your input about what your community needs and where you want to see funds spent so that community leaders and elected officials hear your voice.