Efforts to move community engagement in research from marginalized to mainstream include the NIH requiring community engagement programs in all Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how little these efforts have changed the dominant culture of clinical research. When faced with the urgent need to generate knowledge about prevention and treatment of the novel coronavirus, researchers largely neglected to involve community stakeholders early in the research process. This failure cannot be divorced from the broader context of systemic racism in the US that has contributed to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities bearing a disproportionate toll from COVID-19, being underrepresented in COVID-19 clinical trials, and expressing greater hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccination. We call on research funders and research institutions to take decisive action to make community engagement obligatory, not optional, in all clinical and translational research and to center BIPOC communities in this process. Recommended actions include funding agencies requiring all research proposals involving human participants to include a community engagement plan, providing adequate funding to support ongoing community engagement, including community stakeholders in agency governance and proposal reviews, promoting racial and ethnic diversity in the research workforce, and making a course in community engaged research a requirement for Masters of Clinical Research curricula.