Watching the Coretta Scott King funeral memorial yesterday was inspiring and definitely not sad as one might expect with the humor, singing, praise among the political theater. Instead of a tragic death like we experienced when her husband was assassinated, Coretta lived a long and bountiful life leading the civil rights movement over the past 40 years. Indeed, she kept her husband’s dream alive due to her own perseverance, charm, and determination.
Whenever I again hear MLK, Jr’s famous speech, I Have a Dream, it reminds me of the great vision he held for social justice amidst a battle with forces opposed to his very existence. It may be one thing to be “on-purpose” in a safe environment like business or sports, but to be on-purpose in political warfare is a deadly struggle that not only ended his life, but his purpose may have died if not for the fact that it was brilliantly carried on by Coretta. Certainly the legacy of both Kings has been a contribution to society few married couples ever attain in our country.
Hearing the many speakers share their stories of this remarkable woman was truly inspiring to learn of the trials and tribulations she endured to turn tragedy into triumph as well as being the iconic inspiration to a worldwide social movement of non-violence. Imagine being a widow with small children allthewhile an entire segment of the American culture looked at you for leadership at the worst moment of your life. Imagine putting together your shattered life and family while millions of grieving followers yearned for the dream to be kept alive. How did she persevere to keep his dream alive?
Her struggle also reminded me of the struggle we chiropractors have also experienced in our dream to bring our care to the world. I often wonder why our profession can’t learn from this civil rights movement. Certainly we have our divisions; we have our radical demagogues, our yellow journalists, and our evil vendors who profit by this factionalism. But so did the black movement suffer from warring religious leaders like Malcolm X, charismatic charlatans like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, a youth infected by violence and drugs, a vocal majority paralyzed by an entitlement mentality, and too few well-educated and motivated leaders/professionals able to turn this tide of self-destruction. Indeed, every movement has its issues and detractors, ya folla?
Yet Coretta Scott King kept the dream alive as she rose above these issues that could have doomed MLK, Jr’s goal of an egalitarian society based on talent, not race. I love his famous saying to not judge a man by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. MLK, Jr did not ask for a free ride, he did not condone rioting, nor did he ask for special quotas. All he asked for was fair play on a level playing field for all people.
Isn’t that exactly what we seek as chiropractors—to judge us by our clinical effectiveness rather than by outdated claims by chirovangelists or medical bigotry? After 110 years of sitting in the back of the medical bus, isn’t it time we found a Rosa Parks who publicly denounces this condescension to take a stand? After decades of being refused service at the public drug store soda fountain bar, isn’t it time we publicly protested our second-class status and exclusion from hospitals, workers’ comp, the military health services or the VA? Do we need our own Selma in order for the public and media to recognize the suppression this profession has endured for too long and the contribution we could bring to the healthcare table? Isn’t it time to make our dream a reality too?
Certainly we need to clean up our act—we have too many DCs committing insurance fraud, too many pseudo-scientists making outrageous claims, too many evil vendors and demagogues creating discord and dissension within our ranks, but overall, we also have 80% or more of our colleagues who do great work for millions of patients. As George McAndrews once said, “5% of you are freaks, 5% of you are cultists, and the rest of you who do great things for humanity keep your mouths shut.” Methinks it’s time we all spoke out and acted up.
Sadly, however, we remain the Mystery Science profession to 90% of the public. But, there is a New Order emerging in this profession. At every seminar I attend, Reform and Progress are the themes between the lines if not spoken outright as we heard at ACC-RAC, FCER , NCLC, and ACCC last year. When Scott Haldeman, Lou Sportelli, Jay Triano, David Chapman-Smith, Mac McClelland, to name but a few notables, speak of the need for change immediately, this issue will not be ignored any longer.
In fact, on Feb. 17-19, 2006, National University of Health Sciences will play host to “Chiropractic Strategic Planning for the Next 25 Years: An Action Plan for Grounding Chiropractic Cultural Authority,” an unaffiliated conference hosted by the “Chiropractic Strategic Planning Steering Committee.” The purpose of the conference is to develop an action plan and agents for change necessary to achieve cultural authority on behalf of the chiropractic profession. And next month at both the NCLC and ACC-RAC conferences in Washington, undoubtedly this theme of Reform and Progress will continue to be discussed in the hall ways if not on the podiums.
Everyone now realizes that we need a dream too. We need leaders like MLK, Jr. and Coretta Scott King who will take charge of the burgeoning sentiment for improvement. We need leaders with strong backbones to stand strong against our internal and external enemies and we need articulate spokesmen/women to deal with the public and media.
Let’s learn from the King’s civil rights movement how to strengthen our profession with a dream, an enlightened leadership and with strong followership. If you agree, plan on attending these upcoming seminars to rally the troops and to hear from our emerging leadership in Reform and Progress. Tell your friends to join the ACA and WFC, and keep the dream live that Reform and Progress are alive, as my friend Jordan White recently realized when he wrote to me:
Thank you for your outspoken optimism. It is because of you and others that I continue to practice in this profession. If you were not there to counterbalance and expose these nuts I would have no hope at all.
Update to you: I have rejoined the ACA in large part to reading and listening to you. I know my money and membership can do more good there than anywhere else. You have a lot to be proud of and nothing to apologize for. I just wish there were more like you out there. Your gift for writing and expressing are an invaluable asset to our profession.
Keep up the good work
Jordan White, DC
We need more born again colleagues who want to keep the dream alive like Jordan. Don’t give up, don’t quit in frustration because you’re not alone in this quest for social justice for our profession. You will hear more about the NUHS meeting, NCLC and RAC in the near future, which I urge you all to attend.
In the meantime, keep the candle burning and keep the dream alive.