February 8, 2008
Two events celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday was recognized across the country Jan. 21, both the MGH and Partners HealthCare celebrated the civil rights leader's legacy through speeches, musical performances and special events.

The MGH event, sponsored by the Association of Multicultural Members of Partners (AMMP) and the Multicultural Affairs Office (MAO), took place Jan. 18 in the East Garden Room. Shea Sherrod Asfaw, project director for MGH Strategic Planning and chair of AMMP, welcomed the audience and spoke of King's legacy in terms of today's youth: "We must work to make sure that everyone, especially our youth, feel invested in their futures and the future of the world they live in."

mlk groupNext, Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, compared the MGH's founding ideals to those embraced by King. With the hospital's bicentennial only three years away, Slavin encouraged MGHers to preserve the spirit of willingness to serve all who are in need. "There is much more we and others have to do to help realize Dr. King's dream," he said. The event's keynote speaker, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock College, also spoke of King's legacy and her experience working with area youth. "Simply by providing support and information, we can connect the dots for the youth of today," she said. "Dr. King's vision is not nearly as far off as it seems." The celebration opened and concluded with performances by the Voices of MGH choir.

From left, Asfaw; Thomas Glynn, Partners chief operating officer; Williams; Matt Fishman, Partners vice president of Community Health; Akin Demehin, administrative director for the Center for Quality and Safety and AMMP vice chair; Deborah Washington, RN, MS, PhDc, director of Diversity for Patient Care Services; and Michael Watkins, MD, director of the Vascular Surgery Research Laboratory and member of the MAO Advisory Board

The Partners-sponsored event at the MGH took place Feb. 1 in the Richard B. Simches Research Center. There, Slavin spoke of MGH initiatives, such as the Disparities Solutions Center and MAO's Underrepresented Minority Student Mentorship Program, which exemplify King's vision. Slavin then introduced Carlyene Prince-Erickson, director of MGH Employee Education and Leadership Development, who recognized the MGH's three YMCA Black Achievers for 2007: Luc Dumornay, operations manager for Environmental Services; Michelle McDonald, insurance specialist for MGH Radiology/Clinical Support Services; and Karen Osborne, senior administrative manager for Research in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Surgical Oncology at the MGH Cancer Center; and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital's Black Achiever, Michele Belizaire, RN, Rehabilitation Unit charge nurse.

After an encore performance by the Voices of MGH, journalist and social commentator Juan Williams delivered the keynote address. Williams imagined what King would say if he were alive today, using this image to critique American society, which he perceives as having strayed from King's vision. Nevertheless, he expressed hope in the country's ability "to stand tall in this crucial moment in American history." Williams encouraged the audience to utilize the MGH as a platform to effect social change and concluded by remarking that it is the responsibility of the individual to embody King's ideals.

For information about AMMP, access www.massgeneral.org/ammp. For information about MAO, access www.massgeneral.org/mao.

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