Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Plea for Health Justice: Thoughts From the CEO, January 2024

Greetings CHPA Community,

Martin Luther King Jr., a towering figure in the American civil rights movement, dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice, equality, and human rights. While he is often remembered for his leadership in the fight against racial segregation, King’s vision extended beyond race, encompassing broader societal issues. One such issue that resonates with his principles is the call to improve our healthcare delivery system to be more equitable for all.

King’s commitment to justice was rooted in his belief in the inherent dignity and worth of every individual. He argued that access to quality healthcare is a fundamental human right, essential for individuals to lead dignified lives. He stated, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”  

The disparities in healthcare access and outcomes were stark during King’s time, and unfortunately, they persist today. King’s teachings prompt us to examine and rectify these inequalities. He would likely argue that a just society cannot tolerate a situation where some have access to top-notch medical care while others struggle to meet their basic health needs.

Moreover, King’s philosophy emphasized the interconnectedness of all people. He said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.  This is the interrelated structure of reality.” He believed in the beloved community, a concept where individuals from all walks of life come together to create a society based on justice, equality, and love.

A call for healthcare reform in line with King’s principles would involve addressing systemic issues that contribute to disparities. It would require a focus on preventive care, community health initiatives, and dismantling barriers that limit access to healthcare services. These are all things that CHPA and our members are dedicated to making more visible in our communities.

By embracing Martin Luther King Jr’s vision of justice, equality, and the beloved community, we can strive to build a healthcare system that reflects the dignity and worth of every individual, fulfilling the dream he so eloquently articulated. May it be a call to action.

Ben Wiederholt, Interim CEO