Valley Focus: Hundreds From The Valley Have Voices Heard In Sacramento

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central Valley residents had their voices heard recently in Sacramento. Hundreds boarded buses on February 8th for Equity on the Mall. The trip was designed to get the attention of lawmakers.

Equity on the Mall was organized and led by the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund partner organizations, local leaders, residents, community leaders, and other key stakeholders working together for health and racial equity within some of the most pressing issues facing the Valley.

Javier Guerrero is the interim executive director of Fresno Barrios Unidos. He appeared on ABC30's Valley Focus and talked about the trip with host Margot Kim. Here is part of the discussion. See the video for the full details and pictures from the trip.

Margot: What is Equity on the Mall? What was that all about?

Javier: So, Equity on the Mall -- it's basically a day of democracy put together by about 70 different organizations, Central Valley-wide, where we brought together about 1,500 residents, again, from North and South Central Valley, to come together for a day of advocacy, to really highlight a lot of the disparities that the Central Valley currently and historically has been going through, when it comes to statewide concerns regarding health, education, environment, and land use.

Margot: Why was it important to literally bring the faces behind these challenges in communities to the steps of the capitol?

Javier: It's very important. I mean, all of our organizations -- we really want to connect with the residents and really put them on platforms to elevate their voices.

We really want to make sure that they have the correct channels and pathways to advocate for themselves, as well, and to really speak up for themselves.

They have a lot of great stories. And, you know, they themselves are the ones that are living through these disparities, so it should be them that are telling it themselves.

So it's good to connect them with these elected officials and let them know firsthand what they face on a daily basis and what changes need to be made.

Margot: What are some of the issues that are particular to the valley?

Javier: Oh, there's so many up and down the valley, but some particular ones, you know, really revolve around access to health. That, currently, is still a big issue for a lot of our residents. Some other things that are really troubling are the fact that the Valley -- we produce about $8-billion worth of crops, yearly, but about 40% of youth and families still live in impoverished kind of household living. So that's just a huge disparity there, where, I mean, the very people that are working in the fields and picking these crops aren't really reaping the rewards from it. But, besides that, I mean, water, you know, quality water, all kinds of things, clean air, access to parks.

Learn more about Equity on The Mall, San Joaquin Valley Health Fund and its partners here.
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