Introducing ‘Portraits of Perseverance,’ a look at how the Covid-19 crisis is affecting local lives

Aside from death and sickness, the pandemic has altered lives in ways large and small.

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has been especially cruel. In my own circle, the disease has killed a close friend, two family members and at least one person who attends my church. Dozens of others I know have been infected, some seriously.

From the very beginning of this horrible pandemic, we at QCity Metro have tried to provide our readers with the information they’ve needed to make smart decisions and stay healthy.

Now, starting this week, we pause to look back.

In March, Mecklenburg County will mark a full year since the first case of coronavirus (Covid-19) was confirmed here. Since then, at least 721 of our friends and neighbors have died, and nearly 80,000 have been infected.

Black and Brown communities, here and around the world, have been hit especially hard.

Aside from death and sickness, jobs have been lost, dreams have died, and lives have been touched in ways great and small.

Yet through it all, we have persevered.


To capture those stories of endurance, QCity Metro this week launches a project we call “Portraits of Perseverance” — a series of brief, first-person narratives that we hope will reflect the human impact that Covid-19 has had on Charlotte’s Black residents.

In our first installments:

  • The Rev. Jordan Boyd of Rockwell AME Zion Church wrestles with the pain and frustrations of a ministry upended. Covid has touched his church in ways he scarcely could have imagined. “Everybody looks to the minister to do the comforting,” he says, “but who’s going to comfort the minister?”
  • Anjay Cortez, a young man who grew up in Charlotte, had long dreamed of playing college hoops at a HBCU. Last summer, he headed off to Alabama A&M University, but instead of playing to raucous crowds, he looks out on a sea of empty bleachers.
  • Tracy Gray, who owns a therapeutic massage business, nearly lost it all when Gov. Roy Cooper effectively shut down the state’s economy to slow the pandemic’s spread. And the promised help from the government never came. Even now, she says, the survival of her business remains “tenuous.”
  • And then there’s Traci Evans Simmons, who needs a lifesaving kidney transplant — a need complicated by the outbreak of Covid. In a perverse twist of fate, the stay-at-home order has reduced the supply of donor organs, because fewer people are dying in car crashes and other accidents.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll update these stories and publish new ones, too.  

We hope some of these stories will make you smile, because we also want to capture the spirit of hope and survival that has come to define Black culture in America.

Later this year, we’ll collect all the narratives and publish them in a keepsake booklet, which we’ll distribute for free. Until then, contact our team to share your story of perseverance.

Financial support for this project has come from the Facebook Journalism Project, and our website component is powered by OrthoCarolina.


Glenn Burkins
Glenn is founder and publisher of He's worked at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and Charlotte Observer.

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