As we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year on Monday, January 18, we must consider it in the context of the turbulent, sobering events that have taken a harsh toll on Americans since last January. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color became evident almost as soon as the virus arrived about a year ago, further highlighting the health disparities that have been plaguing Americans of color for decades. The murder of George Floyd in May, on the heels of the killing of Breonna Taylor, reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement all over the world, with millions of people of all races taking to the streets to protest police violence and systemic racism and to show support for racial equality and justice.
The January 6 response by law enforcement to attacks on our nation’s capital stood in stark contrast to the senseless, government-sanctioned acts of violence against people of color in their own homes, while running or walking in their neighborhoods, when organizing to express their voices, or when protesting peacefully. The unprecedented violent insurgence was offset, however, by the fact that the Reverend Raphael Warnock became the first Black person elected to the U.S. Senate from the state of Georgia, largely the result of strong voter registration efforts in Black communities.
If anything is to be learned from the headlines of 2020 and early 2021, it’s that we must continue to work together to fight systemic racism in the United States and in the world. To quote Dr. King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Amida Care President and CEO Doug Wirth reflects, “It has never been more clear that positive change can only happen by working together peacefully and respectfully to achieve a common good.” As Dr. King said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” King also emphasized that “[w]e must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Amida Care is proud to be part of this ongoing struggle. Each day, we recommit to our work to dismantle systemic racism and injustice in health care and beyond.
Several NYC-based events are taking place to celebrate the life and work of Dr. King, including:
The Time is Now: Forward!, the annual Queens College Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration, takes place on Sunday, January 17, at 3 pm. The virtual event features musical, dance, and spoken word performances as well as a panel of distinguished educators who will discuss King’s enduring legacy.
BAM’s 35th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at 11 am on Monday, is New York City’s largest public celebration of Dr. King’s legacy, a free virtual program featuring world-renowned activists, public figures, and civic leaders alongside musicians and other performers.
MLK and the Fierce Urgency of Now! will be presented by The Apollo Theater and WNYC in collaboration with the March on Washington Film Festival at 3 pm on Monday. Part of the Apollo’s Uptown Hall series, the event is co-hosted by Brian Lehrer, Jami Floyd and The Takeaway’s Tanzina Vega presenting in-depth interviews and narrative exploration with political leaders, authors, artists, and activists.