School of Nursing

January 13, 2018

Honor Dr. King’s legacy by continuing his work for social justice

Azita Emami

I am sure you, like me, have been reading in horror about the racist language President Trump was reported to have used about immigrants during a private meeting with lawmakers at the White House. I denounce vehemently the hate-filled remarks attributed to the president.

These are not the ideals and values of our school or our university. These are not the ideals and values that have made America the place that welcomed you (if you are not from here) or your forebears.

I find the timing of these remarks especially poignant. The anniversary of the devastating Haitian earthquake 2010 in which many nurses lent support to the disaster relief efforts. The annual day of observance on which we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy.

It’s clear that there is still a profound need and urgency to continue Dr. King’s work for social justice and to eliminate institutionalized racism and barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion.

It can be tempting to use the holiday on Monday for rest and relaxation. Instead, I encourage you to use the day to rededicate yourself to the values Dr. King held dear and do something in service of others. Remember that even the smallest actions can have reverberations globally.

Next week, please consider attending the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Tribute hosted by the UW Health Sciences Administration. The event will be 11:30 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, in the Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Lobby.

I am proud to announce that UW will recognize the work of an extraordinary group that exemplifies Dr. King’s principles: the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization. They are most deserving of this award with their support of students through scholarships and leadership mentoring to programs that address health issues among underserved communities. This organization is a true treasure in our community and further inspiration of the power of action.

I am frequently in awe of the many ways each of you continually demonstrate our school’s shared commitment to promoting social justice and preventing health disparities, responding to the needs of diverse patients, families and communities, and providing care services that traverse borders. Your work is a testament to Dr. King’s vision for a better world.

As nurses and nursing educators, researchers and advocates, we have a unique opportunity to build on Dr. King’s extraordinary legacy for service and social justice. I want to reaffirm that our school has an unwavering commitment to these values, as well as to standing as one in support of every student, every faculty member and every staff member, no matter who you are or what your country of origin.