Reflecting on MLK Day in King County

By Nancy L. Belcher, Ph.D., MPA
CEO, King County Medical Society

I hope you all had a chance to celebrate the ideals of the man Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, MLK Day. 

At KCMS we took the day away and reflected on Dr. King's message and our work over the past two years. As you know, KCMS created an internationally attended CME called "Racism in Medicine" that is still available for viewing HERE.

We are proud of that work and look forward to continuing the CME series by moving from awareness to action. I thank our KCMS Board of Trustees for encouraging the development of this CME. It takes courageous leadership while taking personal responsibility to fight for change.

We received a variety of emails about the CME subject matter. KCMS is always open to engaging with people who have a variety of perspectives. We appreciate that the path to reasoned understanding is sometimes created by engaging in uncomfortable conversations about our disparate views.

Whether we all agree or not, we as a medical society have the responsibility to call out the disparities in medicine in any form whenever, wherever it is expressed. We can begin here in King County, and then find ways to change the future experiences of our physicians and their patients near and far. 

We are just one medical society in the corner of a vast country. But we can make a difference. 

I have five sons with my husband, Dr. Chris Belcher. Chris grew up in Africa - both the east and west coasts - where his father, Dr. Don Belcher, worked as an infectious disease doctor. While living in Accra, Ghana Chris was first introduced to the childhood stories of Anansi the Spider (often referred to as Nancy). We used to read our sons the Anansi stories nightly. The boys loved how wise and courageous Anansi was! Yes, he was sometimes a bit of a trickster, but the stories' morals were not lost in the details.

Anansi was portrayed as skillful and wise and was included in hundreds of fables. Anansi is often welcomed as a symbol of slave resistance and survival. In the stories, Anansi can turn the tables on his oppressors by using peaceful communication and cunning to gain the upper hand within the confines of a culture where he was powerless. 

There's a saying that speaks to the power of how one person can make a difference. It says if you believe one creature cannot make a difference, you have never spent the night in a closed room with a mosquito.

Renaming King County

On April 19, 2005, King County was officially renamed in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The change originated in 1986 when the King County Council passed a motion to name the county after MLK instead of its original namesake, William Rufus de Vane King. In 1852 King was Vice President on the Democratic ticket with President Pierce.
In 1986 the King County Council renamed the county to honor the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. instead of Vice President King. According to then councilmember Ron Sims, who proposed the motion, the idea came from journalist Shelby Scates who believed, 
"... that the county's name should symbolize justice and equality which the Reverend Dr. King fought for."  
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