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Health Equity Council Commemorates the Life, Leadership and Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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We commemorate the life, leadership and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this federally recognized day. As we reflect on Dr. King’s philosophies and actions within the Civil Rights Movement, we also contemplate how his experiences and teachings inform our thoughts and actions in today’s environment. When we consider the mission and vision of the Health Equity Council “to foster an environment for LACMA which promotes the full health potential and well-being of every member of society, advocating for equality and justice for all,” we find alignment and instruction in MLK’s words:

“We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system and thereby become a part of its evil.”

In a new year of hopeful beginnings and essential transitions, we also acknowledge the turmoil, distress and exhaustion faced by so many, particularly for those within the healthcare profession. After the events of 2020 brought bold conversations to the forefront of our collective communities, we more deeply examined the impact of systemic racism and oppression on our fellow citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the injustices and inequities embedded within our societal structures, including our own profession. We learned more about how not just our patients and families, but also our colleagues, trainees and students disproportionately suffer as well. The experiences of Dr. Ben Danielson in Washington, Dr. Susan Moore in Indiana, and Dr. Aysha Khoury in California leave many re-examining their own organizations, experiences, and perspectives. However, we need only to remember the broader story of COVID-19 in the US to recognize the ways that racism remains woven into the very fabric of our profession. Dr. Danielson aptly stated, “…this is a time for reckoning,” as we bear witness to ongoing violence against our institutions and to our symbols of democracy and freedom.

At this point, we intentionally pause and reflect on the arduous work of Dr. King and so many others. We can use their lives as models of inspiration to strengthen our resolve for continuing this unfinished work. We cannot acquiesce to accepting an unjust system. As physicians, we commit ourselves to healing. Achieving true healing of our profession and our nation works in the best interests of all our patients. Ensuring success requires uncomfortable conversations, truthful acknowledgments, and an irrepressible determination to move forward with humility and compassion. As members of the Health Equity Council, we encourage you to support us in doing this difficult work so that we create the space necessary for all of us to experience inclusion and equity.