This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued the statewide coronavirus stay-at-home order in mid-March, Selina Pagan and other Latino leaders in Cleveland were worried.
They’d been planning in-person events to get more people to participate in the 2020 census – historically, Hispanics have been undercounted, resulting in a loss of federal funds and voting power at the local level. But, when everything was canceled, months and years of planning were suddenly tossed out the window. Pagan, who is president of the Young Latino Network in Cleveland, came up with a new idea when she came across a video online: “I saw a Puerto Rican pickup truck with a speaker strapped onto the back playing a loop announcing the stay-at-home order, and I thought, ‘That’s a pretty cool way to get your message across – how do we do that in our community?’”
She pitched the idea of doing something similar locally on a phone call with other voting and census outreach organizers, and the Cleveland Caravan (or La Caravana) was born.
At the inaugural caravan, held the first week in April, a pickup truck followed by dozens of cars wove through the densely-built streets of the Clark-Fulton neighborhood on Cleveland’s near West Side, which has a large Latino population.