OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – Opa-locka Comm. Joseph L. Kelley, Mayor Matthew Pigatt and the City Commission hosted “Souls Take Control: Our Fight Against COVID-19” for free COVID-19 testing Sunday at the city’s Sherbondy Park.

City officials, pastors, clergy, and residents of the city and surrounding communities attended the event.

“Thank you to all of the leaders from churches and their parishioners for attending Souls Take Control,” said Kelley. “We have to fight vigilantly against COVID-19. That begins with awareness and testing. If we don’t step in and encourage everyone to get tested for COVID-19, the impact of the virus will only further harm the City of Opa-locka and other communities around the nation while increasing racial disparities and structural bias across the board.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled the curtain back on many racial issues that the United States is currently facing,” he added. “I strongly urge people of color – those with or without symptoms – to continue to take advantage of the free COVID-19 testing at Sherbondy Park.”

During the event, Miami-Dade NAACP President Ruban Roberts stressed the importance of COVID-19 testing for everyone so that residents don’t inadvertently spread the virus to family members, especially the elderly and others who are high-risk.

He also made a call to action for Opalocka residents to encourage everyone to register to vote or update their voting information, as well as complete their 2020 Census.

The organizers said the free testing was spearheaded to help save lives and prevent further spread of the novel virus, which has taken a lopsidedly and deadly toll on people of color across the city and beyond.

Kelley created the Souls Take Control event based on the success of the annual Souls to the Polls initiative, promoted by a coalition of local, predominantly African-American churches, as a get-out-the-vote effort to take church parishioners from Sunday services to the voting booth.

Other speakers during the event included Comm. Alvin Burke, Min. IoReneu, and Miami-Dade NAACP President Ruban Roberts.

Churches that participated included Ministro de Nuevo, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Lifeline Outreach Ministry, New Generation Missionary Baptist Church, Renewed Bethel Baptist Church, and Ministerio Internacional.

For other information visit opalockafl.gov/coronavirus.