Do the Right Thing
by, 01-27-2009 at 12:05 PM (2514 Views)
Last week at this time I was among the masses of people in DC trying to find an entrance to the mall to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I never made it to the actual mall but I was able to get a view of the crowd packed into the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.
I was lucky to be there and witness history and it is a day I will never forget. But there is one thing keeps running in my mind since the trip and it's something that happened about 40 years ago.
During my return to Chicago, our bus--which had been chartered by the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association--stopped for dinner at an IHOP. I sat next to Dale Hollingsworth, RN, and we talked about the day. When I asked why it was so special for her to be in DC for the inauguration, she told me she had been arrested at age 14 for marching with Dr. Martin Luther King. They were protesting the segregation of Fontaine Ferry amusement park in Louisville, Ky.
Something about that story really stuck with me. Of course we learned about segregation in history class but seeing it through the eyes of a child made it seem more devastating. The hurt and exclusion those children must have felt as their white counterparts enjoyed a day of fun and games seems so unjust. To prevent a child from taking part in the simple joys of childhood simply because of skin color is tragic.
Fortunately, people like Hollingsworth and Dr. King put aside their fear of getting arrested to do what they felt was right.
As nurses, we're often put in situations where our patients and their families need us to stand up for them. It may mean standing up to a physician to get appropriate orders written or holding firm to make sure they get the referral they need.
It may seem frightening to stand up for your beliefs but look at what people like Hollingsworth and Dr. King achieved. In the '60s, black children couldn't go to an amusement park in Louisville and now, just 40 years later they will be playing with their friends on the lawn of the White House as their father governs our country.