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Reflections on MLK’s Legacy | Health and Justice


By Sydney Rucker and Nikki Livingston

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.” – Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

King’s work toward peace, human rights and justice are concepts and foundational pillars that continue to influence many. However, as the country navigates the compounding crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities; members of the IU School of Medicine community reflect on his legacy.

“Dr. King’s life and legacy have informed my career and personal philosophies.  His exemplary leadership, ability to model universal principles of justice, and unwavering dedication to human rights have influenced how and why I care for patients and my career in academic medicine.”
- Patricia Treadwell, MD, Chief Diversity Officer and Special Advisor to the Dean, Indianapolis

“He has made me realize that using my voice does make a difference. I try to focus on the issues that I have direct control over. I would start by gathering more demographic data through the Indiana Poison Center including race to be able to understand the scope of the issue before I could recommend any targeted interventions.”
- Kris Nanagas, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, Indianapolis

“My whole career is focused on equalizing how minorities in higher education are treated. I would like to see more action steps toward increasing representation. Having discussions about racism and biases is good therapy, but does not advance the agenda of those who are affected.”
- Anonymous, member of IU School of Medicine Community

"It is important to reflect and engage in critical dialogue; however, it is imperative, now more than ever, that we are moved to action in order to combat injustice.”
- Anonymous, member of IU School of Medicine Community

As 2021 begins, the entire IU School of Medicine community continues on the pathway to establish lasting change. Addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice requires all members to become committed to the ideals of anti-racism and cultural humility.

There are a number of events taking place during the week of January 18 to honor MLK Day. If you are still looking for service or educational activities to honor MLK’s legacy, please consider the following events and resources:

2021 IU Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
- January 17 - 18: Where Do We Go From Here: Social Justice Conference
- Find more events at 

COVID Vaccine Hesitancy in Minoritized Groups
Jan. 19, Noon (EST) | Cynthia Brown, MD, principal investigator, discusses the recruitment of minoritized participants for IU's AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial. Brown is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Medicine Grand Rounds
Jan. 22, Noon (EST) | Edwin Lindo, JD, is an assistant professor of Medical Education and assistant dean for Social and Health Justice at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

In his 1963, “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. King stated: “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

The time to engage is always present.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Nikki Livingston

Communications Specialist

Nikki Livingston is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity. She earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Drama at Spelman College. Nikki's unique background in graphic design, copywriting, project management, and digital marketing enables her to support communication efforts through a wide variety of mediums. She is passionate about mission-driven storytelling and helping organizations connect with their communities.