FROM THE PRESIDENT: On civil unrest, protests, righteous anger and hope

In the past 144 years, Meharry Medical College has seen a world of racism, injustice, inequity, poverty and righteous anger for unrighteous actions.

In the middle of the last century, members of our faculty were Freedom Riders, protesting racial oppression in the deep South. Students participated in protests for social change between their studies to become physicians and dentists. Graduates established practices in their adopted communities and walked their children to school challenging segregation in the face of bigotry and hatred. And on our own campus, at the height of the civil rights movement in Nashville, fire bombs destroyed the home of NAACP civil rights attorney Z. Alexander Looby. Those same bombs blew out more than 100 windows of our buildings resulting in injuries to our students.

Meharrians are no strangers to societal upheaval. Through peaceful protest seasoned with bravery and perseverance, Meharrians have challenged the appalling silence of the status quo and seen evolution, slow it may sometimes be in coming.

Our mission remains constant: to care for those who are marginalized, underprivileged and oppressed. To be clear: we abhor racism, hatred and injustice. We support protest and action accompanied by meaningful social debate. This is the fabric from which we are made.

Today, we are fighting two formidable enemies—racism and disease. We cannot afford to let either win. We must remember both in our fight. I encourage you to use your voice to direct progress and demand change. But we cannot forget our ongoing fight against the most pervasive health crisis of our time—COVID-19. Remember the essential health practices that will help us fight this disease as we continue to fight racism. Wear a mask when marching, decontaminate before going into the homes of those you love, keep your distance to avoid becoming a vector and get tested for COVID-19 after congregating with others.

This is a time for righteous people and people of good will to bring healing to the land. Meharry Medical College has a legacy of healing—and healing for our community, our nation and our world is our earnest desire. To paraphrase the lyrics of that old gospel song, we’ve come too far to be turned back now.

James E.K. Hildreth Sr., Ph.D., M.D.
President and CEO
Meharry Medical College