C-TAC News

The Blog to Transform Advanced Care

Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.

C-TAC Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Commitment to Health Justice

C-TAC celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his life in the struggle of peace with Justice for the poor and oppressed throughout our nation and the world. We celebrate Dr. King’s moral, spiritual and ethical leadership as a faith leader, who showed unwavering commitment to health justice for the most vulnerable and marginalized, and who was willing to risk his life for the sake of others. His view on the injustices plaguing the U.S. health system resonates with C-TAC’s efforts to incorporate principles of equity throughout our policy and advocacy work. 

On March 25,1966 at the second convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, according to the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern Newspaper, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called for massive direct action to raise the conscience of America highlighting the segregated and inferior medical care received by American Africans. He accused the American Medical Association of a “Conspiracy of Inaction” and proposed massive direct action to raise the conscience of the nation’s hospitals to comply with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

We applaud King’s boldness in criticizing the systems and structures of oppression that embraced the triple evils of racism, capitalism and militarism, including the health system. He correctly exposed the impact of these three evils on prohibiting all peoples of all races, cultures, genders, faiths, and health challenges from realizing the dream of the “Beloved Community”. In a speech during a press conference on the same day before attending the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. King once again highlighted his commitment to health justice for all when he stated:

“We are concerned about the constant use of federal funds to support this most notorious expression of segregation. Of all of the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.”

Dr. King’s reference to health injustice as physical death, resonates with those of us on the C-TAC team who dedicate our lives day after day to ensure that all Americans with serious illness, especially the most vulnerable, receive comprehensive, high quality, person- and family-centered care that is consistent with their goals and values and honors their dignity. It has been almost 56 years since these words were uttered from the lips of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who challenged our Nation to deal with the inequality and inequity of the health system for the most vulnerable in society. Yet, today health justice for the poor and marginalized who face serious illness and “physical death” from poor health care and the social determinants that contribute to it, remains to be achieved.  

Now, more than ever, advocates for health justice in public policy and private health systems need to heed Dr. King’s warnings about health justice. We must constantly remind ourselves of our obligation as health professionals to engage in the struggle for social, economic, and health justice for the most vulnerable regardless of race, class, gender, or culture.

As we continue to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the overwhelming health disparities in our nation, we have a unique window of opportunity to respond to the call to create a framework for health justice for the most vulnerable in society. Current social movements around equity and justice, like Black Lives Matter, provide each of us with the possibility to work collectively to transform our present health system into a system of equity and justice by reimagining, re-envisioning, and rediscovering the meaning and significance of quality and affordable health care for all, especially the most vulnerable in society.

Written by: Rev. Dr. Tyrone Pitts, C-TAC Senior Faith Advisor

Leave a Comment