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MLK Day at Penn Medicine: Celebrating His Legacy—and Ways to Give Back

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  Here at Penn Medicine, we are celebrating his birthday—and lifelong legacy—by serving our communities and patients with “Days of Caring” events over the next month as a way to give back. 

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTSToday, people from across the health system and the Perelman School of Medicine have fanned out across the city engaging in service projects for MLK Day, including HUP's Pamela Mack-Brooks, RN, who volunteered at a blood drive with the American Red Cross and South Jersey Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in Thorofare, NJ.

Special talks across Penn Medicine featuring expert guest speakers and staff will also take place this week, commemorating Dr. King’s life, vision and impact on education, race relations and health care.

Here is a roundup of all the Penn Medicine activities:


“Days of Caring”

Every year, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cultural Diversity Committee honors MLK’s legacy of community service with its annual Toiletry Drive for patients discharged from the hospital’s Behavioral Health unit.

This year’s drive is underway and will run now through Friday, January 31. Organizers are accepting toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, combs, brushes, and other hygiene items, as well as men’s and women’s socks.

In the spirit of MLK Day, at Chester County Hospital, the Diversity Council and the Human Resources and Organizational Development Department will be collecting new twin-sized blankets (non-quilted), twin-sized sheets sets, bath towels and wash cloths, and diapers (sizes 3, 4, and 5) and baby wipes now through Monday, February 17.

This year, the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County will benefit from these donations.

Conversations on Race, Education and Health Care

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, and national origin. At the same time as our nation reaches this historic milestone, PPMC’s Cultural Diversity Committee marks a milestone of its own—the 5th anniversary of its Cultural Diversity Conference.

To commemorate these two significant events, the Cultural Diversity Committee is hosting a special program honoring the civil rights legacy of MLK entitled “It’s Not So Black and White: A Conversation on Race.” The event for UPHS staff will take place on Thursday, January 30, 1 to 2 pm at the Philadelphia Heart Institute.

Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, a nationally recognized expert and frequent media commentator on race relations in America, will lead the conversation.  He is the co-founder and current president of Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, Inc. The group seeks to recruit black males into the social work profession and provides anti-racism and violence prevention training in schools.

Jeff and Fred PerformAt Pennsylvania Hospital, the Black History Committee celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Brown vs the Board of Education for MLK day. 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically,” MLK once said. “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

(on left: Musical Selections - Fred Tillmon, Jeff Mc Intyre of Hospital Svcs)

Today at noon, staff and guests gathered at the Zubrow Auditorium for the event to hear various speakers and talent. The Master of Ceremony was Bryan Anthony, director of security at Pennsylvania Hospital, with opening remarks by Gwendolyn Mayrant of Medical Records, a poetic reading by Jamillah Muhammad and music by Fred Tillmon.

The guest speakers included David Flores Minister Herbert Lusk III, of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church, who gave mime presentations.

On Wednesday, January 22 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm in Medical Alumni Hall at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine presented “To Dream the Impossible Dream…”—a talk by Rev. Cedric Hughes Jones, Senior Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, with a special musical guest.

The annual event oragnized by HUP's Pastoral Care will celebrate MLK’s life and legacy.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane,” Rev. King said in 1966, speaking before the Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights.

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