At MLK Symposium, employees urged to ‘change the world’

January 18, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

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This week, Michigan Medicine hosted its 28th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Sciences Symposium to commemorate the life and legacy of the civil rights leader.

More than 300 members of the organization gathered Monday in Dow Auditorium for the symposium, which was hosted by the Office of Health Equity and Inclusion (OHEI) and sponsored by a number of the U-M health sciences units — including the School of Dentistry, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, School of Nursing, School of Social Work, Michigan Institute for Clinical Health Research, Kinesiology, U-M Medical School and Michigan Medicine.

“This event represents a collaborative effort that allowed members of our respective units to come together in a powerful way,” said OHEI administrative manager Yvette Harris. “If we as members of the U-M community uphold Dr. King’s values on a daily basis, [everyone’s] presence at this event will become that much more meaningful.”

The event theme: The Fierce Urgency of Now — Moving Past Indecision to Action in Health Care Equity. A keynote address by Adewale Troutman, M.D., M.P.H., a renowned social justice advocate and health equity expert, focused on how both health and health care should be viewed as social justice issues.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ I think that this is hugely important when we think about health inequities,” Troutman said, pointing to factors such as housing, income and education levels that tend to lead to poorer health outcomes. “Starting here, starting now, you, too, can change the world. Make that a core belief for all that you do here at Michigan Medicine and in your personal lives.”

Also presenting was Yazmyn Cross, president of the U-M Black Undergraduate Medical Association, who introduced a slideshow featuring various images regarding the fight for diversity, equity and inclusion across U-M’s campus. The powerful presentation was met with loud applause from those in attendance.

The hour-long event also featured remarks from David J. Brown, M.D., associate vice president and associate dean for health equity and inclusion and associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

“We must always remember that our differences as individuals are what make us stronger as an organization, and together, we must celebrate our diversity,” Brown said. “That’s something we should always value and treasure at Michigan Medicine.”

Brown recalled Dr. King’s hard work and dedication when expanding upon the importance of DEI issues on campus.

“During divisive times, it is often difficult to promote an inclusive environment that welcomes those who may be different than ourselves,” Brown said. “Yet, we must remember Dr. King’s words and acknowledge his struggles and seemingly tireless exertions so that we can ultimately create an inclusive environment for all and truly live out his dream — no matter how hard that work may be.”

Miss the MLK Symposium? Click here to watch a complete video.

Events celebrating Martin Luther King’s life and legacy continue for the next few weeks at U-M. For a full list of festivities, download a free mobile device guidebook app by clicking here

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