Community Impact

The Vaccine, In Our Words: Tuskegee's Johnny Ford

Decades after unethical experimentation conducted in Tuskegee, Ala., cultivated medical mistrust among African Americans, former mayor Johnny Ford is getting the COVID-19 vaccine in hopes that he inspires others to do the same.
Walgreens Stories
When it comes to addressing vaccine hesitancy, there’s a great deal of work that Walgreens has done and still has left to do to make sure our friends, family and neighbors get their shot at returning to normal.
But a brand can’t draw on personal experience, share emotions and relate to others on a human level. Only people can do that.
That’s why Walgreens sponsored the creation of a seven-part series of brand films, called “The Vaccine, In Our Words.” Each short film tells the authentic story of a person or community struggling with vaccine hesitancy and brings that story straight to you, unfiltered. The films, which premiered on YouTube, were made by filmmakers John Fox and David McLain of Slipstream, in collaboration with the Walgreens marketing team including Rego Marquiis and Stefan Clark.
“As a brand, we can spend a lot of time and energy talking about the power of empathy and how real and relatable moments help keep us connected,” says Marquiis, senior director of Creative Content Studio, Walgreens. “We challenged ourselves to do something different with ‘In Our Words,’ something marketers aren’t accustomed to doing – stop talking!
“For Walgreens, a brand with such an important role to play in the health and well-being for all, we believe this new type of storytelling will be seen as altogether provocative, evocative, meaningful and unexpected. And that’s the point.”
Episode one introduces you to former mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, Ala. – home to arguably one of the most unethical chapters in our nation’s medical history and one of the most cited reasons for vaccine hesitancy among the Black community. Learn why Ford decided to get his COVID-19 vaccine and why he’s encouraging others to do the same – while still acknowledging and recognizing the dark medical history that carries his city’s name.

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