While events and celebrations to honor Martin Luther King Jr. help keep his legacy alive, there also remains a need to actively uphold the principles for which the civil rights leader stood. “We can celebrate the man, but we must also take up the mission,” says John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “And we have a long way to go.”
Payton was the keynote speaker at the annual “Celebration of the Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” event hosted Feb. 10 by Partners and the MGH Disparities Solutions Center. As a member of the country’s first civil rights law firm, Payton has been involved with dozens of cases that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court and works with other civil and human rights organizations to address challenges related to racial justice and inclusiveness.
During the program’s welcoming address, Jeff Davis, senior vice president for Human Resources, provided an overview of the many programs and initiatives the MGH offers its staff, patients and visitors as part of its commitment to supporting diversity. “Here at Mass General, we are committed to keeping the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive. He imagined uncompromised equality and justice for everyone. Until the day his
life was abruptly cut short by an assassin, he fought to make this dream a reality – not for one specific group but for all humanity, regardless of race, religion, gender or socioeconomic background
or lifestyle,” Davis said.
Carlyene Prince-Erickson, director of MGH Employee Education and Leadership Development, introduced four of the Greater Boston YMCA Achievers: Jessie Elston, insurance rehabilitation specialist in the Department of Physical Therapy, and Adilson Horta, diabetes program coordinator – both from the MGH – as well as Alfredo Escobar, interpreter services coordinator at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, and Tia Harris, senior budget analyst at Partners. Now entering its 37th year, the YMCA Achievers program recognizes multicultural employees across Boston for their professional and community-based achievements and links them to the city’s youth as role models.
“If there is one thing that I hope we can take away from this event today, it is the courage to carry on Dr. King’s legacy – to embrace his commitment to service and his pursuit of opportunity, equality and education for all Americans,” said Davis.
Read more articles from the 02/17/12 Hotline issue.