Dear colleagues, students and Department of Surgery community,

We, in the Department of Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, are deeply saddened by the events of the past week. We unequivocally acknowledge the death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as an act of racism.

Today we stand in support of our black medical students, residents, faculty and staff of our department, as well as the black community nationwide. We acknowledge your pain. We also acknowledge that we have been largely silent in calling out and rejecting systemic racist policies that have contributed to Black Americans being affected disproportionally by police brutality.

In the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s death, many have expressed their frustration and pain in several ways including dialogue, messaging and protests. It is our hope, at this time, that we all be less judgmental and more introspective on our role in helping to heal these systemic wounds.

Our city of Birmingham played a central role in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s powerful words from a Birmingham jail in 1963 are still equally relevant today -

"I cannot sit idly…and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

We will continue to promote diversity of all types within our department and use our voices, our talents and resources to create an environment of equity and inclusivity - within our department and the Birmingham community.

We are committed to the establishment of a Department of Surgery Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to understand, promote and respect diversity of background, culture, attitudes and experiences within our department to drive excellence in clinical care, research, and surgical education. Under the leadership of Colin Martin, M.D., and Sara Pereira, M.D., FACS, the committee will work with the School of Medicine and UAB community to support and promote all of our unique talents. Drs. Martin and Pereira will be our new Associate Vice Chairs for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - a position that was created six months ago, but certainly now is very timely. 

Please join us in rejecting hatred and confronting racism through education, personal commitment, empathy and compassion for all members of our department and society.

Sincerely,

Colin Martin, M.D., FACS
Associate Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Sara Pereira, M.D., FACS
Associate Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Herbert Chen, M.D., FACS
Chair, Department of Surgery

Christal Moore, MBA, MHA, FACHE
Executive Administrator, Department of Surgery