Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – why it matters

Monday, January 19th, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, celebrated as a national holiday since the mid-80s. Ive worked for organizations who considered it a formal holiday and those that did not. But whether you are working or not on Monday, there are many opportunities in the coming days to celebrate the life of the great civil rights leader. There are educational forums, community breakfasts, and musical events.  I have attended many events over the years and always come away with a renewed commitment to do my part to end the injustices in our society.

I saw the film “Selma” last weekend and highly recommend it.  Why did thousands of people march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 – to ensure that African Americans could exercise their basic legal right to vote. The movie may be hard to watch in certain scenes, but we have to recognize it as part of our collective history. The violence against black people really happened as depicted. But that was a different time in our history – it was 50 years ago. Continue reading

National White Coat Die-In

It’s been 18 days since the Ferguson grand jury decision and 9 days since the NYC grand jury decision. We have all seen the news and protests in cities around the country. Black lives matter.

Yesterday, another group demonstrated their support. Students at 70 medical schools around the country organized a national white coat die in. They lay down for fifteen and a half minutes. Eleven minutes to represent the number of times that Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” as he was in a choke hold by police in New York City and four and a half minutes to represent the four and a half hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after being shot by a police officer.

Medical students with the support of deans and faculty at prestigious schools such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA and Johns Hopkins said that racial bias is a public health issue. Physicians are trained to do no harm. They are trained to heal. They are trained to save lives. Yes, this is a public health issue. Continue reading