By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Charles and Margo Brunson in a 2019 photo.

It’s been more than a year since Margo Brunson lost her husband Esutosin Omowale Osunkoya to COVID-19. He was one of the first casualties in Sacramento County when the pandemic emerged in 2020.

Formerly known as Charles Brunson, the co-founder of the Sacramento Branch of the Black Panther Party, Osunkoya passed away on April 13, at the University of California Medical Center. He was 76. Ms. Brunson, who survived the coronavirus herself, still grieves for her husband but has been able to move on with her life and maintain stability, she told The OBSERVER in a recent telephone interview.

“Yes, it’s been hard the past year,” said Ms. Brunson. “Sometimes I wish he would just walk into the living room from the bedroom and say something. Either to get on my nerves or make me laugh. I always think about him. Always.”

Ms. Bruson, under the state’s COVID-19 orders, gets out to places where facemasks are mandatory. Since last summer, she has been visiting the African Marketplace at the corner of 24th Street and Florin Road. On the first and third Saturdays of the month, she would be there supporting the vendors, the youth, and elder adults that participate. Or she might be at her south Sacramento home enjoying her time with her son and granddaughters.

“I would like to go to outdoor concerts. I miss going to those events,” Ms. Brunson said. “I have been mentoring two young female authors and visiting the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum, too. But I want to go to a concert to listen to some music.”

Ms. Brunson and her husband were in the hospital together fighting the coronavirus. She survived the medical ordeal but he did not. She agreed to try the Remdesivir study, which she said saved her life. The Food and Drug Administration approved Remdesivir, an antiviral medication, to treat COVID patients. It was the first drug to receive FDA approval as an emergency use. About 31% of the patients who agreed to the study recovered within 11 to 15 days in late April 2020. Ms. Bruson was out of the hospital within 10 days. She says she has not been vaccinated.

“Right now, I’m not trusting all of that. I just don’t know how it’s going to affect my body,” Ms. Brunson said. “After the Remdesivir, I stopped participating in the study right away because I didn’t trust doing further testing. Now they want me to trust people again? No, not right now. I’m not trusting that.”

On May 20, Ms. Brunson will participate in a virtual event sponsored by The California State Library Foundation to discuss her involvement in the Sacramento Branch of the Black Panther Party from April 1968 to April 1970.

Titled, “Dear California: Women of the Black Panther Party,” the event is hosted by Gary Simon, founder of Sacramento JUNETEENTH Inc. The event starts at 6:00 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to that. I hear that the state library foundation is trying to include more stories, history of different backgrounds,” Ms. Brunson said. “The Sacramento Branch of the Party had a lot of women. As a matter of fact, more women than men. I have every name of every woman in the (Sacramento Branch) Party. We did great things. We really believed in what we were doing.”

The website link for free reservations to the Dear California: Women of the Black Panther Party virtual event is located at: