Every January as we enter a new year and a new season, I find myself reflecting on the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a remarkable leader and his teachings and philosophy will certainly continue to mold generations, the same way it molded me from a young age. I was only 10 years old when Dr. King delivered his prolific ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963 and to this day, I remain incredibly grateful for the lifelong impact it made on me.
As a child and throughout my teenage years, I spent so much of my free time playing basketball. One summer at basketball camp, I noticed a new, talented group of athletes. Always wanting to meet friends who loved the game as much as I did, I immediately flocked to them. However, I did not expect to be met with hesitation, not only from my own friends, but also from this new group of boys.
These young men were African American. It’s no surprise that racism and prejudices surrounded all of us as we grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, but instead of letting the division alter my beliefs and outlooks for worse—I learned from it. And even though the world was teaching division, I chose to do all I could to break those barriers and hopefully inspire those around me to do the same.
Over the next few weeks, I did my best to follow and embody Dr. King’s dream, I worked to break down the walls these boys had built to protect themselves. I began to spend more and more time with them and in the long run, I could not be more grateful for that remarkable group of boys who spent their summer days at basketball camp teaching me to be a better athlete and all the while, teaching me to be a better person.
In my 33 years as your President and CEO, I’ve been committed to bringing light to diversity and inclusion, and educating myself on what I do not know or understand. I owe much of my passion and dedication to this matter to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision for the future. I also owe it to the summers I spent with those young men. While our journeys led us to different places, I carry the memories and lessons from my friends every day as I walk the halls of this hospital.
I’d like to believe that if Dr. King was alive today, he’d be proud and inspired by Texas Children’s and the more than 17,000 unique individuals who work together to care for every child and woman who comes through our doors — just as I am every day. Each of us has our own individual story to tell—our own scars and our own identities, yet we can effortlessly come together to exemplify compassion and care to our patients and to one another.
If that alone is Texas Children’s story, then I’ve done my job.