January 03, 2024

Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and impact on health care and science in Alabama

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Martin Luther King Jr.'s deep-rooted mark on civil rights is widely recognized, but his influence on health care and science, particularly in Alabama and Birmingham, has been equally transformative.

Birmingham was a focal point for King's activism during the turbulent times of the Civil Rights Movement. Birmingham underwent a shift due to efforts by King and other local civil rights heroes like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

King's unwavering dedication to justice and equality resonated deeply in the hearts of Alabamians, sparking a ripple effect that transcended into the realm of patient care and science. As he said at a convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights in March 1966 in Chicago, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Decades after his passing, King's impact continues to shape the southern landscape in Alabama and beyond of health equity.

Celebrate MLK Jr. Day with the Office for Diversity and Inclusion

Nationally, his birthday is celebrated and recognized each year on the third Monday of January with a day of remembrance. His actual birthday, Jan. 15, falls on the third Monday of the month this year.

King’s commitment to justice echoes in ongoing efforts to eradicate health disparities and promote diversity in scientific research, inspiring future generations to carry forward his vision.

As we reflect on his life, we must honor his contributions. The Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration at UAB is a testament to this legacy. Hosted this year on Thursday, Jan. 18, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Margaret Cameron Spain Auditorium, the event will offer lunch to the first 100 guests.

Co-hosted by UAB Heersink School of Medicine Office for Diversity and Inclusion and UAB Medicine's Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the 2024 commemoration features performances by the Miles College Golden Voices Choir and a poetry reading by Salaam Green.

A panel discussion will be moderated by Raegan Durant, M.D., associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Heersink School of Medicine, and André Lessears, MBA, chief diversity officer for UAB Medicine. It will feature Ed Fields, senior advisor and chief strategist for the City of Birmingham, DeWayne Bailey, director of the UAB Alabama Rural Health Collaborative, and Audra Williams, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The commemoration event invites individuals from all areas of UAB to participate in discussions, seminars, and activities centered around King's principles and their application in today's world. It is an opportunity to engage, learn, and collaborate towards a more inclusive and equitable society, echoing the vision championed by Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and mission transcends time, leaving a lasting imprint on Alabama's health care and scientific future. His unwavering commitment to justice and equality inspires positive change, reminding us of all of the profound impact one individual can have in shaping a better future for generations to come. Register to join the celebration here.