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By FARNOUSH AMIRI, Report for America/Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Racism would be declared a public health crisis in Ohio and the day celebrating the official end of slavery would become a paid state holiday under racial justice measures reintroduced Tuesday.

The measures were originally introduced in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests in the summer.

Efforts to pass the measures last legislative session were unsuccessful.

Democratic Sen. Hearcel Craig, of Columbus, is a cosponsor of both measures and has been a vocal advocate for several racial justice proposals in the chamber.

“We still have a long way to go to achieve racial justice, but this bill will help us honor those who have paved the way to where we are today,” Craig, who is Black, said in a release outlining the effort to make Juneteenth a paid holiday in Ohio.

The effort passed through the Senate unanimously in the last General Assembly but didn't make it to the House.

“Juneteenth was celebrated more widely across the country in 2020. By declaring it a paid state holiday, I hope this renewed awareness and celebration of Black history will continue to increase in the years to come,” Craig said.

If passed, the bipartisan bill would help Ohio become the second state in the country, behind Texas, to make Juneteenth a paid holiday.

The effort by Black lawmakers to declare racism a public health crisis in Ohio took off shortly after millions took to the streets last May to protest the police killings of Floyd and Breonna Taylor in Lousiville, Kentucky.

Ohio became one of the first states to introduce the measure but it did not move past the committee hearings. More than two dozen cities, counties and boards of health across the state have since passed similar declarations.

“While Ohioans may not be currently engaging in protesting at the levels we saw last summer, we know that racism didn’t just go away,” Craig said. “Black Ohioans continue to be arrested and incarcerated at alarming rates, experience wage and workforce disparities as well as maternal and infant mortality and get diagnosed with long-term health conditions like diabetes at higher rates than white Ohioans."

The resolution also came as the rate of Black Americans contracting and dying of COVID-19 was proving to be disproportionate to their white counterparts. The proposal, according to Craig, aims to officially acknowledge racism in Ohio for the first time — and thus allow it to be fully addressed.

The resolution would also provide a glossary of terms to describe instances of systematic racism and how it can affect health. It will also call for funding to be put aside to address the impact of racism in the state, whether in education, housing, criminal justice or health care.

“It shouldn’t be controversial,” Democratic Sen. Sandra Williams, also a cosponsor, said of the effort. "We need to declare racism as a public health crisis to assure every Ohioan that the legislature is working to make Ohio a fairer, more equitable state.”

___

Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Rose Lavelle said 'I don't know how I won' upon winning MVP in the USWNT's SheBelieves Cup tournament

Rose Lavelle poses with her 2021 SheBelieves Cup MVP award. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

  • Rose Lavelle won MVP of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup tournament.
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  • "It's always nice to be recognized but there were other people who deserved it more," she said.
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Rose Lavelle won the Most Valuable Player award for her contributions to the US Women's National Team's winning effort at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.

Though Lavelle enjoyed a solid showing in the tournament — including an assist Wednesday night and a game-winner in the USWNT's grudge match against Canada — many expected some of her other teammates to get the nod for the individual honor.

And among those surprised by the selection was none other than Lavelle herself.

Rose Lavelle. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

"Honestly I don't know how I won that," Lavelle told members of the press during her media availability Wednesday night. "I don't know who picks that."

Lavelle looked uncomfortable collecting her new hardware during the trophy ceremony. She sauntered onto the stage and smiled awkwardly after edging out the other finalists for the honor: US teammate Christen Press and Brazil duo Debinha and Adriana.

—Chris ⚽️ (@El_Crychtinho) February 25, 2021

 

"I think there were a lot better options," Lavelle said during the press conference. "It's always nice to be recognized but I think there were other people who deserved it more."

Check out her full postgame comments below:

 

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