By Melissa Bruce, RN, Vice President of Community-Based Care Clinical Services
The Avamere Family of Companies honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s advocacy during his birth month, January. Avamere invited employees, patients, and residents to share their MLK stories, including their personal experiences, thoughts, and how they continue his great work today.
This is Melissa Bruce’s story.
MLK was a pioneering civil rights activist. He changed the lives of African Americans in his time and subsequent decades. I, like most African Americans, would be crazy to say that MLK didn’t impact my life in some way. My father grew up during a time of segregation on the East coast, and I was raised hearing the heartbreaking stories of racism, oppression, and violence. Hearing stories about how my own father couldn’t drink at white drinking fountains, make eye contact with Caucasians, or receive desperately needed services.
And then came a pillar of hope, unity, non-violence, and love, and there was hope for a population “ravaged with the sweltering heat of social injustices.” MLK paved the way for things like the Montgomery bus boycotts, the voting act of 1964, the civil rights act, and the fair housing act of 1968. More than that, he was and still is a man associated with hope from the despair, nonviolent protest, equal rights, and never allowing fear to triumph in the face of what is just and right. He also taught us to serve others with love and compassion, despite other’s often flawed and inaccurate views of us. His famous I Have a Dream speech was delivered before some 250,000 people at the March on Washington in 1963 and remains one of the most famous speeches in history. He was able to so eloquently depict the struggles of African Americans while delivering hope, demands, and a message for change that was long overdue and would continue long after his death.
What a time we are living in now. MLK’s message could serve us all in some way now. Peace, unity, non-violence, equal rights, and service to others. I hope on this MLK Day, we can all take a minute to remember where we have come from and where we still need to go, but that we look to the future with hope and love. That we continue to work in service to each other and for the greater good. Treat each other with love and kindness, from a just and fair mindset. Happy MLK Day 2021! In service to others, let’s get vaccinated and continue to be diligent in our social distancing, masking, hand hygiene, and infection control.