Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

 

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.(January 15, 1929)

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Monday January 16 this year.

 

 Health effects of violence

Dr. King’s life reminds us of the  tragic effects of interpersonal violence. His life ended suddenly and prematurely when, on April 4, 1968, an assailant shot him as he stood on a hotel balcony. He had delivered his last speech just the day before. The shooter was apprehended, and after confessing to the murder, sentenced to life in prison where he died.

Most people know of Dr. King’s assassination, but don’t know his mother, Alberta Williams King, also died violently. At age 69, sitting at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mrs. King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974. Her  23-year-old assailant received a life sentence and died in prison.

 

Violence between persons creates social, economic and political problems, and serious medical consequences. It is a leading cause of death, especially in children, adolescents and young adults.

Non-fatal injuries often cause severe and permanent disability that changes lives, burdens families and increases medical costs astronomically. These include

  • TBI, traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, ventilator dependence
  • Amputations of limbs
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; other forms of anxiety; depression
  • Chronic pain, often leading to opiate dependence

Here is a previous post  about  why and how we need to address violence in our society .

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

 

Health disparities

This observance also reminds us of the problem of health disparity. Health disparities are

preventable differences in illness, injury, violence, or access to health care that happen to  socially disadvantaged populations.

These populations can be defined by factors such as

  • race or ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • education or income,
  • disability,
  • geographic location (e.g., rural or urban),
  • sexual orientation.

Health disparities are directly related to the past and present  unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  Dr. King’s father, Martin Sr. ,died of a heart attack. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died of ovarian cancer.

Learn Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most  from WebMD

 

 

You can learn more about Dr. King and listen to part of his famous speech at this

link at Biography.com

"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King , in Washington D.C. looking toward the Washington Monument

 

You can also read the full text of the speech at this link.

 

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you.

 

A Testament of hope
A Testament of Hope by Dr. King

 

 

 

 

 

 

strength to love
strength to love, written by Dr. King

 

 

And a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book

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