Can We Talk
Vulnerability, the Inequity of Grief, and How Communities Heal
Cory Johnson’s death, in a shooting near his home in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, shattered his family and his wide circle of friends. Cory had been one of their stars, a charismatic young man with high hopes and a gift for connecting with people and making them believe in him.
His death brought home to his family, and members of the church that supported them, how pervasive grief was in their community, and how unprepared they were to handle it. The often-hidden health risks posed by grief and bereavement only added to the inequality faced by the residents of Roxbury every day.
Roxbury Presbyterian Church, where Cory’s family worshipped, had long been central in their lives, but addressing issues of mental health was not something they were equipped to do. Liz Walker, its minister, watched as the families in her neighborhood struggled, and decided to reach beyond the church walls for help.
Looking back at her own life as a preacher’s daughter in Little Rock, Arkansas, and as well as forward as the program she launched is replicated in communities across New England and the country, Can We Talk is an important, impassioned narrative.