(February 7, 2007)
Joycelyn Elders Urges New Commitment to Overcome U.S. Health Disparities
Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders urged a Campus Center Ballroom audience to strive to overcome the racial and economic disparities of America's healthcare system as she kicked off the University's commemoration of Black History Month on Feb. 6, as guest speaker for the 24th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Luncheon.
Elders, a pediatric endocrinologist who from 1993-94 served as the first African-American in the position of U.S. Surgeon General, quoted from a 1966 speech of Dr. King's, in which he said, "Of all of the inequities and injustices, perhaps the disparity in healthcare is the most unjust and the most inhumane."
Citing numerous death-rate statistics as evidence of a racial disparity in regard to healthcare access, Elders said, "We are the only industrialized country that does not offer healthcare for all of our people . . . We spend 15 percent of our Gross Domestic Product — $1.5 trillion — on a system that's not coherent, not comprehensive, not cost-effective, and does not offer choice . . . We want 100 percent access, and zero percent disparities. We want all people to have access to primary care healthcare."
Provost and Officer in Charge Susan Herbst, in welcoming people to the luncheon, which was sponsored in part by the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities and the Office of Student Success, noted, "We want our students to be leaders, to be the people who fight for justice, freedom and human happiness . . . Put it another way . . . we want our students, when they leave the University, to be like Joycelyn Elders."
Several other lectures and events are scheduled to take place throughout the month of February at the University, all are free and open to the public. Lectures include:
- "What Manner of Man – A Call to Leadership and Service" by Dr. Raymond M. Burse, former Rhodes Scholar and vice president and general counsel at General Electric in Louisville, Kentucky, at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Recital Hall at the Performing Arts Center.
- "What Makes News?" by JoDee Kenney, Capital News 9 reporter in Albany, at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 in Humanities 039.
- "The Significance of Diversity in the Judicial System" by Albany City Court Judge Helena Heath-Roland, at 1 p.m. Feb. 28 in Humanities 039.
Other activities include Two Towns of Jasper, a feature-length documentary about the 1998 racially motivated murder of James Byrd Jr., shown at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11, in the Terrace Lounge of the Campus Center.
African-Americans at UAlbany, 1858-present >>