By Allana J. Barefield
With the opening of a COVID-19 testing site on campus, Paul Quinn College (PQC) is getting in on the action to help a community that many say has been historically underrepresented, under-served, and overlooked. In the midst of a global pandemic, this historically Black college recently partnered with Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the city of Dallas to offer free COVID-19 tests to residents through July. The testing site recently opened and beginning in July, tests will be offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm for anyone, whether or not you have symptoms. Located in southern Dallas County, the private, liberal arts school with an enrollment of almost 600 students, sits on 146 acres in an area where there’s one grocery store within a five-mile radius. PQC President Dr. Michael J. Sorrell says it is important that citizens in that area also have access to the COVID-19 tests.
“We know that people need to be tested, we know people need masks and we know people are hungry,” he said, adding that in addition to the tests, Minnie’s Food Pantry is providing food and masks handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis. “As an institution, we have a general philosophy that we must address the issues that are important to the communities we serve.” In May, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson appointed Dr. Kelvin Baggett as the city of Dallas COVID-19 Health and Healthcare Access Czar.
“It’s important to know your status… to address your health, and to also promote and protect the health of those you love or come in contact with,” said. Dr. Baggett. “COVID-19 has demonstrated that not only can it be contagious but also in certain segments in our population, it can be deadly.” According to Dr. Baggett, there has been a rise in reported cases recently and June 17 saw the highest increase since May, with 413 cases and nine deaths. Stressing the importance of not engaging in social activities and continuing to practice social distancing to flatten the curve; he said the key is having testing sites that are accessible.
“It brings me great delight to see them [Paul Quinn College] adapting in an area of public health where that’s normally not the role where you expect them to play,” he said. “Paul Quinn is rising above expectations and is doing things in a very creative, unique matter to address the broader needs of the community.” As one of many HBCUs that have opened up to allow testing, Paul Quinn joins a list of fellow HBCUs; such as Howard, Alabama State, and Florida A&M Universities. Because COVID-19 has had such a critical impact on Black and Brown communities, Dr. Sorrell said the message is clear, leadership has to ensure that these communities are served, and where better than on HBCU campuses.
“It says that we remain deeply rooted in our communities and our cause and quests to uplift our people,” President Sorrell said. “This is what real HBCUs have always done, this is uniquely just part of who we are.” The free COVID-19 tests are included in Paul Quinn’s “Safe For My City” campaign that has about 35 partners. Dr. Sorrell said he is happy to see organizations wanting to collaborate and advocate for Paul Quinn and the entire city. “Oftentimes we believe that the only people who are supposed to show leadership are elected officials and the reality of it is you don’t have to be elected to lead,” he said. “You can show a quiet display of leadership every single day which in turn, elevates the community in which you reside and which you love.
IF YOU GO: What: Paul Quinn College COVID-19 Free Testing Site Where: 3837 Simpson-Stuart Rd, Dallas, TX 75241 When: Beginning in July, Tuesdays and Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm. For more info: https://pqcedu.squarespace.com/safeformycity