Lift Every Voice

Published: June 9, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM MICHAEL MURPHREE, LICSW, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AND THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MEDICAL ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH (MAO)

Lift ev’ry voice and sing
‘Til earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty…

from the song and poem by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson

These words begin a deeply inspiring congregational Hymn that many of our fellow Americans who are African American and Black readily recognize. It is from the poem, and Hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which for generations has been known as the anthem of hope and unity during trying times. 

Now is the moment for these words to ring out and be lifted up in thunderous harmony by all American voices as this nation addresses the overwhelming emotions related to the murders of Mr. George Floyd and others. It has brought into focus the need to take action against racism and the role that structural violence has in our society. It also comes at a time when communities of color in our nation face significant disparities in health amid the COVID-19 crisis exemplifying how structural prejudice consistently functions as a public health emergency.

As a non-profit agency, Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) has always concentrated on doing excellent work to serve many underserved communities in our State and never devoted our focus to speaking out on social issues beyond our mission. However, this is a time that we feel warrants another voice in this song of justice. MAO strongly condemns racism. It is our duty as healthcare and social service providers to speak up in the face of injustice and inequity of any kind; a task we do daily through our mission driven services. 

To make this statement does not negate anyone’s own painfully personal events that have been experienced within their own cultural identity, racial identity, or the myriad of other distinctive aspects that make America such a diverse and strong nation. On the contrary, it is the beginning of moving this nation to confront many systemic issues that limit people in the United States from reaching their full potential. 

For MAO, it is why we are adamant that Alabama look at the disparities that are impacting our citizens living in rural areas and small towns. These disparities particularly impact poor and middle class people across the racial and ethnic spectrum. The closing of hospitals, weakening rural economies and lack of medical professionals in vast portions of Alabama are leaving almost half of our state with an unenviable reality that if one is sick in rural Alabama your chance of dying from a health issue is statistically higher than if you live in a city. 

We have more uninsured people in rural Alabama, yet our State leaders seem to struggle with developing and accepting a solution, such as the modification and expansion of Medicaid services, that data indicates would bring improved healthcare and more jobs to rural counties.

So let’s stand up….reach out to one another…and join together with strong voices to make this stanza of “Lift Every Voice” real for America today:

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast