Thank You

Walter M. Kimbrough
4 min readApr 27, 2021

About two weeks ago my brother Marty died. It was Sunday, April 11th. I got a text from my mom around 5:30 a.m. as I was driving Benjamin to Baton Rouge for an AAU tournament. A few weeks prior, he contracted COVID from a contractor he was trying to give some work to, helping the guy out. Marty had a number of comorbidities, so he had to be careful until he could qualify for the vaccine. When he qualified, he had just tested positive.

He went into the hospital on Friday, and was dead by Sunday morning.

Over these past few weeks I have heard from all kinds of people. Friends I grew up with, high school and college classmates, colleagues from all around higher education, past students, and of course the Dillard University community and New Orleanians. I even heard from the mayors of my hometown of Atlanta as well as Little Rock.

So I just want to thank everyone for reaching out. I was once asked how I defined being rich, and I said by the relationships. I was right. I am wealthy in relationships.

The crazy thing is that I was out front in September with the president of Xavier encouraging Black folks to participate in the vaccine trials. We were hit the hardest by COVID-19, especially because we have so many comorbidities, with obesity being top among them. We did all kinds of interviews, especially since there was a healthy amount of skepticism of vaccines, as well as rampant conspiracy theories.

While we are making progress, we have more work to do. Part of it is still trying to get people to think critically about this.

For instance, some people say we don’t know the long term effects of the vaccine. That’s true. We ALSO don’t know the long term effects of COVID-19. This is clearly different than the flu or a cold. We don’t use the term “long hauler” for either of those viruses. So we know there is at least a medium term impact for some. There really has been no medium term impact of being vaccinated.

And short term effects? Three times as many Americans have been vaccinated as have contracted COVID. The CDC does a regular “Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination.” This is what it says for the April 20th report:

Over 211 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through April 19, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 3,486 reports of death (0.0016%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records revealed no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths.

So if we say vaccines caused 3,500 deaths with over 200 million doses, and COVID has caused 570,000 deaths with 32 million cases, SIMPLE MATH says the virus is worse than the vaccine.

Full stop.

The other prominent response is that it is my body. I agree, but for people who refuse to get vaccinated they should keep their bodies to themselves. Don’t go to work (telework). Have your groceries delivered. Do all your shopping online. Watch church from your laptop or TV.

An unvaccinated person is a potential carrier of the virus. Although they might get sick and recover, they could unintentionally pass it on to someone else who might die from the virus.

That’s how Marty died.

Many people have talked about this pandemic as a war. Yet very few of us know what kinds of sacrifices Americans made during previous wars. Recent wars have ended in weeks and months, not years. So we have not real appreciation for how people sacrificed during World War II. This is a great piece from AARP. I hope those “it’s my body” folks will read this.

So thanks again for all your support. But thank you to everyone who has gotten vaccinated. We all need to do our part to protect our communities.

The Prez



Walter M. Kimbrough

12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.