COVID-19 Information

2021 Geisel Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

15th Annual Geisel MLK Health Equity Celebration

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane." - Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Statement of Purpose –

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequities that have long existed within health and society.  Across the years, many have pointed to the current system and pushed for a more inclusive future. A future that is made more urgent by the current health crisis.  As aspiring medical professionals, we the students of the Geisel School of Medicine, would like to ask, where do we go from here?  What does healing look like for those most marginalized in healthcare?  What can we do so that all of our communities can begin to heal?  How can we remain vigilant as the effects of the pandemic continue?

Everyone is welcome to our virtual celebration at:


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

A Tale of Two Americas: HIV, COVID-19, and the “Pandemic” of Healthcare Disparities

Presenter:  Daniel Baxter MD, Internal Medicine Specialist, Mount Sinai Morningside

As the HIV pandemic has shown, chronic healthcare disparities have inflicted immense suffering in marginalized communities of color, and the current COVID-19 crisis has further compounded these inequities, which challenge us in our everyday clinical interactions with our patients.

Dr. Baxter is an Internal Medicine Specialist in New York, NY and has over 45 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1975. He is affiliated with Mount Sinai Morningside.

2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

The COVID-19 Pandemic & Health Inequalities: An Opportunity for a Radical Revolution in Healthcare

Presenter: Roy Wade, Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, MSHP – General Pediatrician, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cobbs Creek; Instructor of Pediatrics,

University of Pennsylvania

Racial and socioeconomic disparities in COVID-19 diagnosis are superimposed upon and have the potential to worsen historical inequities in the United States. Lessons learned from the current COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity for healing and reshaping of our current healthcare system to better serve historically marginalized populations.

Dr. Wade is an instructor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and a general pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Cobbs Creek Primary Care. He has a PhD in Microbiology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, completing his pediatric residency at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. After residency, Dr. Wade completed a Commonwealth Fund Harvard Minority Health Policy Fellowship at the Harvard School of Medicine and Harvard School of Public Health earning a MPH in Health Policy and Management. He completed a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Fellowship at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

7:00 PM  - 8:30 PM         UNMUTED

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our day-to-day lives–physically, economically, socially, and educationally. As part of the Geisel School of Medicine 2021 MLK Day Celebration, we created UNMUTED, a platform for community members to share their stories and reflect on the myriad ways the pandemic has impacted them. This could include stories of illness, financial struggles, mental health, and silver linings.

We hope that this time will help to eliminate the anonymity of the COVID-19 crisis in our community and bring us closer together. To that end, we invite you to submit proposals for a 3-5 minute performance in any creative format --story, essay, spoken word, song, video, or dance -- to be shared in a live stream with the community at large. Performances can be submitted anonymously and shared live, read by the event’s Emcees, or pre-recorded.


1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Abenaki Food Pantry Fundraiser with Medicine in Motion

Pledge to walk, run, skate, snowshoe, or participate in an activity of your choice around Occom Pond in support of the Abenaki food pantry in Swanton, VT. For more details and sign-up information, click here.


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

More than ever: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King

Presenter:  Agnes Binagwaho, MD, M(Ped), PhD – Rwandan Pediatrician; Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity; Senior Advisor to the Director General of the WHO; US National Academy of Medicine member; fellow of the African Academy of Sciences

COVID-19 did not create the inequalities and the social, structural violence that prevents individuals from practicing their rights to health but has rather significantly exacerbated them. Similarly, COVID-19 did not create preconditions but has killed hundreds of thousands of people based on these preconditions. While the elderly are the most vulnerable, we cannot forget the increased vulnerability and the damages faced by minorities due to preexisting socioeconmic injustices, as well as the bad leadership that is responsible for all of this. If we are to bring an end to injustice in healthcare for this crisis and prepare for any future global health threat, we need governance structures centered on wellness and inclusiveness.

Professor Binagwaho is a Rwandan pediatrician and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity. She worked for 20 years in the public health sector in Rwanda, serving in high-level government positions from 2002-2016 as the Executive Secretary of Rwanda's National AIDS Control Commission, then as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, and then for five years as Minister of Health. She is currently the Senior Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Global Health Equity, a member of US National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences.

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Mobilizing for Health Equity

Presenter:  Uché Blackstock, MD – Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity

In this talk, Dr. Uché Blackstock, founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, will touch upon topics ranging from the historical aspects of racism in the American medical system to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on racial health disparities to motivate that audience to mobilize for health equity.

Dr. Blackstock is a thought leader and sought-after speaker on bias and racism in health care. She is the Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, which partners with healthcare organizations to eradicate racial health inequities, through keynote talks, trainings and consulting services. In 2019, Dr. Blackstock was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “10 Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazers You Need to Get Familiar With”. In 2020, she was one of thirty-one inaugural leaders awarded an unrestricted grant for her advocacy work from the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund.

Dr. Blackstock’s writing has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Scientific American, the Washington Post and STAT News for the Boston Globe. Since June 2020, she has been a Yahoo News Medical Contributor and appears regularly on cable and broadcast news programming to amplify the message around racial health inequities.

She is a former Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the former Faculty Director for Recruitment, Retention and Inclusion in the Office of Diversity Affairs at NYU School of Medicine. She left her faculty position at NYU School of Medicine in December 2019 after almost 10 years to focus on Advancing Health Equity.

Dr. Blackstock received both her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University.

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Healing Systemic Inequities One Relationship at a Time

Rabbi Susan Harris – Chaplain, Boston Children’s Hospital

Systemic inequities surely need to be addressed in many ways and on many levels. However, at the core of any approach are our own micro-ethical decisions.  In the words of Arthur Frank, we face “a sequence of choices…Who will I realize myself to be in response to the other?”

As hospital chaplain, Rabbi Susan Harris has worked to make Boston Children’s Hospital more sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ patients and families. Harris graduated from Brandeis in 1978 and was ordained by Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1984. n 2001, Harris became a chaplain at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she works with patients, serves on the Ethics Advisory Committee, and educates staff on the treatment of LGBTQ patients and families.

MLK Celebration Archive