MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A collaboration between the artist and activist community has resulted in a PSA urging people to wear a mask.

The “We Wear The Mask” campaign was the brain child of Raeisha Williams, Chantyl Allen and Nekima Levy Armstrong. Its message and music is helping get more people in communities disproportionately impacted by the virus to wear a mask.

“We Wear The Mask” is a takeoff the original poem by one of the most influential black poets in American literature, Paul Laurence Dunbar. The words used then still ring true today.

“That’s what Laurence Dunbar’s poem was all about — sustaining and wearing a mask when we are out and about. And so for this campaign it’s twofold: we are black, so we have to wear a mask to keep ourselves protected physically from COVID, but also from white supremacy and racism,” Williams said.

She wanted this message to reach younger people in communities of color, where COVID-19 is spreading at an alarming rate.

“We want to focus in on people between the ages of 18 to 45. We were really intentional on doing that, especially African-Americans between that age group, because those are the ones who aren’t wearing it,” Williams said.

She enlisted the help of Grammy-nominated artist Rick Kinchen from Mint Condition. He used his music from a single on his first solo album “Truth Behind the Lies,” mixed it with beats from local artist Joe Davis. Videographer Michael Fischer added his talents along with director Leah Rose to make a public service announcement they believe will make an impact.

“I wish people would do the right thing so we can get past this,” Kinchen said.

Rick from Mint Condition says he wanted to be a part of this project because he knows many who don’t believe COVID-19 is real.

“I would come in with a mask on and everybody would be like, ‘Why are you wearing a mask?’ I’m like, ‘Everybody should be wearing a mask,’” Kinchen said.

“Even if you don’t think it’s real, if we’re saying it will protect and save someone else’s life, there is nothing wrong with covering our face with a mask,” Williams said.

The “We Wear the Mask” PSA is running on BET, HULU and other streaming services.

Reg Chapman