“I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” 

The words of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were reflected on Jan. 27 at the annual MLK Gospel Celebration Breakfast in the standing-room-only East Garden Room.

“At Mass General, we are involved in work that transcends politics,” said Brit Nicholson, MD, senior vice president for Development. “First and foremost, we aim to heal – no matter what our patients look like, what they believe, where they come from or whom they love. Dr. King was a fighter, but a peaceful fighter, an advocate for justice and a strong believer in the power of love. Day in and day out we must work to live out these ideals of Dr. King. These days – more than ever – it is important to understand that while we fight for equality, we must do so with inspiration, not with criticism.”

Nearly 50 years after King’s untimely death, the celebration – hosted by the Association of Multicultural Members of Partners – focused on the theme of love, bringing King’s inspirations and teachings to today’s world.

“We are living in challenging times,” said Winfred W. Williams, MD, associate chief of the MGH Division of Nephrology and founding director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. “It is a call to action for all of us who wish to see the legacy of Dr. King honored, and continue to make America the nation we want her to be.”

Williams, who served as keynote speaker, came to the MGH 27 years ago. He shared his memories about growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – a deeply segregated city in his youth. Also in attendance at the event were Williams’ sister – one of the first in the group of African American students to lead in the desegregation of schools in Baton Rouge –and his 101-year-old mother – an educator and activist who “instilled in us the values of hard work and standing up always for equality and justice,” said Williams.

The event also featured MGH Police and Security Color Guards, a rousing rendition of the national anthem sung by Nicole Marquez and inspiring music by Elder Hu and the Gospel Unlimited Ensemble. The 2017 MGH YMCA Achiever Awardees also were honored at theevent: Latoya Brewster, Nutrition and Food Services; Katia Canenguez, PhD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Nathalee Kong, MD, Revere HealthCare Center; Aswita Tan-McGrory, Disparities Solutions Center; and Daniel Urizar, Environmental Services. The YMCA Achievers program recognizes multicultural employees across Boston for their professional and community-based achievements.

“As doctors, we have patients from all over the world, from all different backgrounds and walks of life, all with various ailments,” said Williams. “We walk into their lives and they place the burden of healing on us. It is a privilege to care for each and every one of these patients. We must have patience, great empathy, compassion and more importantly, we must have love. Yes, love. It is the essence of life, and we must have the capacity to love those who we are healing.” 

Read more articles from the 02/03/17 Hotline issue.