The image shows a group of people engaged in a community mural painting activity. They are outdoors, working on a wall that already features a partially completed abstract design with blue and yellow elements. Some individuals are standing while painting, and others are seated. The painters are wearing casual clothing, and some have protective clothing like overalls. The atmosphere appears to be casual, with some people focused on their painting and at least one person checking a phone. The setting includes a paved street and a chain-link fence in the background, hinting that this might be an urban environment. The weather seems to be clear, and shadows indicate it might be midday.

Image by Ethan Pepin (Neighborways) on flickr

Achieving safety and preventing violence requires strategic use of narratives in messaging and communications efforts that lead with racial justice. Narratives shape what we believe, what we think is possible, and how we take action. Starting in childhood and throughout our lives, we hear stories that teach us how to live and what we are told we can and cannot do. These stories are entrenched with powerful ideas and themes. This is narrative. According to the Narrative Initiative, impactful change moves at the speed of narrative. It defines what we imagine is possible and why, what we aspire to become and how, and whether we feel we have power with or over others – or none at all. Those with the most at stake—e.g., those most impacted or with lived experience of violence—can only build power within a value system that includes them.1 Leading with health equity and racial justice in narrative change and communications efforts provides us a set of tools to help shape safety outcomes in our communities. This module offers resources, tools, and case examples to apply the racial justice principles to violence prevention narrative change, framing, and communications.


1. What is Narrative? Narrative Initiative, Accessed July 10, 2023. 


Section 1: Foundational Elements

Why is it important to lead with health equity and racial justice in narrative change?

Section 2: Applying and Operationalizing Racial Justice in Communications Strategies

How can we develop communications strategies that lead with health equity and racial justice?

Section 3: Connecting Policy and Systems Change with Narrative Change

Why is it important to connect narrative change and policy work for greater impact?