Church Service Honors 50th Anniversary of 1964 Civil Rights Act

FEBRUARY 18, 2014 – The Minority Health Initiative Council (MHIC) at the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) recently held a praise and worship service in St. William’s Chapel to honor Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The event took place in partnership with the Georgetown chapter of the NAACP, the Black Student Alliance, and Protestant Ministry.

Johnathan Smith, JD, who serves as assistant counsel in the Economic Justice Group at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, delivered a keynote address at the February 9 service. His remarks noted how health care inequities intersect with the broader civil rights movement of the 1960s and today.

In light of the anniversary, Smith’s address focused on progress in the United States and what still needs to be accomplished. He highlighted how health care should be considered alongside social determinants, like employment or criminal justice, to advance equality.

African American Tradition

Brian Floyd, MS, assistant dean at NHS and MHIC staff advisor, introduced the speaker, highlighted key figures in the fight for recognition of African American history and civil rights – Carter G. Woodson, PhD, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and spoke about the significance of the event.

“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was a critical point in the fight against racial segregation and discrimination, which later led to improved health outcomes of those who had experienced social or economic disadvantage, I cannot think of a better place to do so today than through this special praise and worship service,” he says.

According to Floyd, the service was the perfect way to honor the work of those who fought for equality during the civil rights movement due to the key role of churches.

“The African American tradition has a rich history of black church leaders and other activists using song and scripture to remind our ancestors of the importance of seeking social justice for the most vulnerable members of our society,” he says.

‘Spiritual Health’

Chelsea Redman (NHS’14), a health care management & policy major, and LaMar Holmes (NHS’14), a human science major, co-chair the Minority Health Initiative Council.  They reflected on the relationship between the council’s mission and spirituality’s relevance in health care.

“One of the most important aspects of health that is overlooked and is also most important is spiritual health,” says Holmes. “Spiritual health is what allows you to keep faith, keep everything in God’s hands, and know that everything will work out because he’s going to carry you through.”

By Khadijah Davis (NHS’15), health care management & policy major