Joining hands in friendship and solidarity, hundreds of OHSU staff and students honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the second annual celebration, “A Time to Rise Up.” The event sought to encourage people to stand up for what’s right and to never be silent to injustice. It was also a time for the OHSU community to reaffirm its commitment to equity and inclusion, especially in these uncertain times.
“After the 2016 election, many of us were left hoping that the steady dose of hate speech … a barrage of unimaginable violence and fatal shootings … would somehow dissipate on its own,” said Brian Gibbs, Ph.D., M.P.A., vice president of equity and inclusion. “Unfortunately, that did not happen.” So it’s more important than ever, Dr. Gibbs emphasized, for OHSU to rise up as a local leader and “walk the path where OHSU’s values for diversity, equity and inclusion would not just remain clear, but would indeed widen.”
There were plenty of nods and applause as OHSU employees and a medical student took to the stage to speak words of inspiration. OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D. M.B.A., called upon the OHSU community to be a beacon of hope, while keynote speaker Deborah Prothrow-Stith, M.D., dean and professor at Charles R. Drew University, challenged the audience to be open-minded when seeking solutions to violence and hate, and to go beyond themselves.
Derick Du Vivier, M.D., M.B.A., president of the OHSU Faculty Senate, reminded us that 50 years after Dr. King was killed, we have yet to fulfill his dream of equality and justice. Still, Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.O.G., F.A.C.S., vice president and chief medical officer of OHSU Healthcare, believes that we can achieve that goal by a critical mass of people committed to peace and justice.
Throughout the program, the quote that resonated most was that from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He dreamed that “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all are created equal.’”