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The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life was never easy, but he always fought hard.
That was the message Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree, JD, shared last week at BWH’s annual celebration of King’s life in the Cabot Atrium. “We have to be careful about romanticizing him. We need to explain to our children that it was not easy,” said Ogletree. “He was someone who always stood up for what he believed in.”
Ogletree was the keynote speaker during the celebration of King’s life, an inspiring program filled with recollections, photographs and music.
“It’s Dr. King’s legacy that continues to inspire the hearts and minds of all of us as we work to create equality in all aspects of our society,” said BWH President Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA.
At BWH, multiple programs and initiatives are underway to achieve equality in health care and increase access to quality health care for everyone. In recent years, the hospital has lent its voice to the Massachusetts Health Care Reform law, which has expanded health insurance coverage to thousands. Through the Center for Community Health and Health Equity, an ambitious new effort is aimed at reducing disparities in infant mortality and low birth weight, cancer and cardiovascular disease, among others.
“We are extending our partnerships beyond health care with comprehensive community outreach initiatives to improve education, job training and housing,” Gottlieb said. “We aim to arm young women and men with information and power to make the right choices in nutrition and exercise and to receive routine medical examinations.”
Both the ceremony and the reception, hosted by the Association of Multicultural Members of Partners, touched on the connection between King’s work and the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States.
Ogletree, who served as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama during his campaign and mentored the president and his wife when they were students at Harvard Law, drew similarities between the challenges King faced and the challenges Obama has faced in his life. “We need to make sure we don’t rewrite history in the next few years; we need to remember this was a big challenge. Like Dr. King, Barack Obama also went up the rough side of the mountain,” he said.
“At every point, there are starts and stops, ups and downs and impediments to success,” Ogletree said. “But Dr. King never stopped.”
See more photos from the event.