Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While our celebration this year looks very different from years past, I hope you will take the time to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and recommit to the fight for equality, equity and justice.
2020 was a challenging year. The global pandemic illuminated the health disparities we knew existed in our community. People of color disproportionately experienced a higher rate of serious COVID illness requiring hospitalization. But our data also revealed a bright spot — there were no disparities in in-hospital mortality or in the use of COVID specific therapies among whites, African Americans, or Latinx patients treated at Duke. Our health outcomes stand in contrast to national trends.
Last year also showed us that the racist actions Dr. King gave his life to eradicate in the 1960s are still alive today in the 2020s. But again, there was a bright spot at Duke. We donned badge reels designed by four frontline team members that proclaimed Black Lives Matter. We exposed vulnerabilities in our systems and in ourselves as we engaged in brave and authentic conversations about discrimination and resilience. And through our Moments to Movement initiative, the health system, the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing are engaged in purposeful actions to end systemic racism and promote a sense of belonging at Duke.
Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Today, I am incredibly proud that our Duke community has not stayed silent, and I encourage you to share your perspective as we commit to keeping that momentum going in 2021 and beyond. These conversations are emotional and uncomfortable, but the benefit is tremendous. When we listen and learn from one another, we foster a sense of respect. We grow. And we begin to see love conquer hate.
A. Eugene Washington, M.D.
Chancellor for Health Affairs, Duke University
President and CEO, Duke University Health System