It is my pleasure to serve as the president of the nation’s oldest interprofessional organization of doctors, dentists, and pharmacists of color. AMDPA is 130 years strong with a rich Sankofa tradition of reaching back and pulling forward. Enhancing Workforce diversity in the healthcare workforce is one of the most critical components to addressing health equity. And it is of utmost importance to me during my tenure.
Thank you so much for the widespread attendance and support of the holiday mixer cosponsored with AMDPA by UAMS' Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The representation of students, fellows, different health professions, young and seasoned was a sight to behold. To the naked eye Saturday night looked like an extraordinarily amazing holiday mixer with exquisite decor at an elegant venue with delectable food. But to those with vision . . . we saw manifestation. We saw Sankofa at play-the results of decades of reaching back and pulling forward. We saw students refueled as they were in a safe space to reflect. We saw hugs and love by those who understood our plight without any verbal exchange. We saw recharging. We saw a recommitment to fervently reach back and pull forward. And we saw great love.
As I scanned the room, I absorbed the moment. Living legends (Hall of Famers, Presidents, Board of Directors, CEOs, and people with extraordinary life experiences) were pouring into the next generation of rising stars. I relished and celebrated the effort of decades of blood sweat and tears by the senior members of AMDPA that had manifested. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in its infancy was Bill Bauknight and now there was a team of them busily serving and supporting us. I heard tales of days gone by from our more senior or dearly departed members of old who gathered themselves along with deans and chancellors after long office hours to intercede on behalf of future students and existing students. I marveled at the manifestation of their glorious work and faith for a better day. Their eyes may not have witnessed it but ARE the product of their efforts. From Billy Bauknight, Phillip Rayford, Billy Thomas to a fully funded staff working in PARTNERSHIP with AMDPA. To the eyes with vision, we recognized we were witnessing the hopes and dreams of the slaves.
For that and so much more I say THANK YOU! I am ecstatic yet I am not naïve. I recognize we have come a mighty long way. And yet we have a very long ways to go. But in this moment, I put my hands on my hips and I won’t let my backbone slip as I commend those too numerous to count who have labored throughout the years. And likewise those who are new to the vineyard of this great work, I SINCERELY say THANK YOU! We are better TOGETHER.
This holiday season, I charge you to rest, refresh, and return ready to be about the business of reaching back and pulling forward the next generation of living legends. 130 years strong. #AMDPA proud!