System News

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - Community gathers for Marching Toward Equity & Social Justice symposium

Roper St. Francis Healthcare and MUSC Health hosted a symposium at the Gaillard Center on Thursday, May 9 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the hospital strike in downtown Charleston.

The day’s speakers focused on what the healthcare community has learned regarding health equity and social justice for vulnerable populations and specific health disparities that still remain.

In Charleston, issues of race, class and equity culminated into what is now known as the 1969 Charleston State Hospital Strike (presently the Medical University of South Carolina). The strike was a pivotal event in the civil rights history of South Carolina.

The brainchild of Thursday’s event was Dr. Brian Cuddy, Chairman of the Roper St. Francis Healthcare Board of Directors, who wanted to reflect on not only what we have learned since the strike, but what work still must be addressed. Dr. Cuddy, a neurosurgeon, helped kick off the day by pointing out that both Roper St. Francis Healthcare and MUSC have achieved national recognition for quality and that the community is blessed to have both healthcare institutions.

“But today is a call that everyone have equal access to these benefits,” Dr. Cuddy said.

Andrew Young, a prominent civil rights leader and former politician, delivered the keynote address in the afternoon.

Young gained a reputation as a negotiator and a strategist. At the time of King’s death in 1968, Young had become the executive director of King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In the early 1970s, Young was elected to Congress, representing the region of Atlanta, Ga. During the administration of President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s, Young was appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

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