By Verbal Adam | OBSERVER Correspondent

Sierra Health Foundation CEO Chet Hewitt urges the crowd to let their voices be heard during the Equity on the Mall event at the State Capitol in April. Verbal Adam, OBSERVER

More than 1,500 people gathered at the Capitol on April 26 to raise awareness about the importance of protecting and strengthening equity in all areas for historically marginalized peoples.

“Equity on the Mall” was hosted by the Sierra Health Foundation and San Joaquin Valley Health Fund.

“What I need from you right now is your voice,” Sierra Health Foundation CEO Chet Hewitt told the crowd. “I want you to deliver a message to [lawmakers] that equity and inclusion and diversity are not pithy words that they get to say when they want your vote. We know that health and wellness are not equally distributed. It looks much better on the coast than it does in our communities.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom sent representatives to the event, and several assembly members also attended. The event, which also featured food, music and a performance by Aztec dancers, also was an opportunity for community members to unwind. Children were treated to jenga and hacky sack, as well as merchandise giveaways by local organizations.

One visitor’s sign summed up the sentiment of the attendees: “Love our people how you love our food.”