Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

 

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. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Monday January 16 every year .

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)

 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

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

Dr. King

Effects of 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

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 read the full text of the speech at

I Have A Dream….

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies,

education and culture for their minds,

and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

Dr. King

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

A Testament of hope
<a href="http://A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.""” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>A Testament of Hope by Dr. King
strength to love
<a href="http://Strength to Love""” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>strength to love, written by Dr. King

a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book

Thank you for joining me to remember Dr. King. Please share this post and follow Watercress words where we explore and share the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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King, Obama, and Healthcare

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 

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.

First African-American President- Barack Obama

In 2008 Democratic candidate Barack Obama ran for President of the United States and won, becoming the 44th President  and the first African-American to win the office.

Former President Obama running with his dog

President Obama kept fit exercising with his dog- photo compliments Pixabay 

 

Candidate Obama  pledged to enact universal health care coverage for the country, a promise President Obama fulfilled with the support of a Democratic Congress. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.

 

 

First Universal Healthcare Coverage -“Obamacare”

The term “Obamacare” was first used by opponents, then embraced by supporters, and eventually used by President Obama himself. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system‘s most significant overhaul and expansion of coverage since  Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. (source Wikipedia) 

 

Is ObamaCare doomed?

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign platform included health care reform, a plan he labeled “repeal and replace” for Obamacare. Thus far, as of January 2018 , President Trump has not convinced Congress to abandon Obamacare, but it will change under the recently passed tax law which has abolished the individual mandate  requiring all persons to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Premiums are predicted to increase significantly, making it more difficult for people to afford coverage.

 

 African-American Health- Progress Made, More Needed

 

The death rate for African Americans dropped 25% from 1999-2015, but they are still more likely to die at a young age than white Americans.

African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in whites, including

  • heart disease,
  • stroke, and
  • diabetes.

African Americans ages 35-64 are 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure as whites.

African Americans ages 18 to 49 years are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease as whites.

Social and economic conditions, such as poverty, contribute to the gap in health differences between African Americans and whites.

 

Public health agencies and community organizations should work with other community resources , including

  • education,
  • business,
  • transportation, and
  • housing,

to create social and economic conditions that promote health at early ages.

Consumers can prevent disease and early death by

 

Dr. Ben Carson- “Gifted Hands”

Ben Carson, M.D., renowned neurosurgeon, also ran for President in 2016 , leaving the campaign during the Republican primary.

 

President Trump appointed him to his Cabinet where he serves as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

 

 

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I invite you to  follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thanks for your time and interest.  Dr. Aletha