By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The deaths of three Miami-Dade County Public School teachers is prompting some difficult and very personal conversations in South Florida’s Black community.

Two of the teachers worked in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

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One of the teachers was Mr. Abe Coleman, who worked at Holmes Elementary.

“And generations upon generations knew Mr. Coleman,” Tanya Jackson said.

Jackson is a pastor of a church in Liberty City.  She remembers Coleman as a friend and colleague.

“And he was just a great co-worker and stayed at the school like a monument,” she recalled.

We don’t know why he was not vaccinated, but his death has sparked a conversation in Pastor Jackson’s household.

“Because he was like a brother to our family, to have the conversation with my son last night and make the decision for him to get the vaccine,” she explained.

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It’s a conversation that has yet to reach others.  Coleman and the losses of Lillian Smith, and Michael Thomas also share another common thread, they were all part of the Black community.

“There is so much hesitancy on a real level about getting the vaccine in our community.”

Community leaders CBS4 spoke with said there are also barriers making it harder for people to get the shot.

“I mean when you think about people that work, they can’t get off of work until 5 or 6 o’clock,” she said.

Medical conditions also prevent people from getting the vaccine, but low vaccination rates could mean more lives lost.

“He was part of the 5,000 Role Models project, this was a gentleman who was really dedicated to serve,” Karla Hernandez-Mats said.

Hernandez-Mats is president of United Teachers of Dade.  She’s heartbroken by the losses.  She estimates a handful of other employee deaths in the district are due to COVID.

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“And so I think that what we need our local leaders to do is really hone in on where those zip codes are, the areas that are not getting enough vaccines and give them better access,” Hernandez-Mats added. Team