Black History Month celebrated at AdventHealth
By PAMELA GRANT
“Imagine an America where there are no more first black Americans,” said Lynda Nash, the first black woman elected to the Harker Heights City Council. “It would warm my heart completely if we didn’t have to say that.”
Nash spoke at AdventHealth Central Texas’ Black History Celebration held in the breezeway of the Central Texas Medical Plaza Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Music at the event was performed by flautist Richard Hegens Jr. with Anointing Sounds Music Studio and Maria Westly. Guest speakers for the event were Councilwoman Lynda Nash and Charles Mitchell, MD.
Nash’s speech focused on the theme of “no more firsts”. She talked about how we shouldn’t forget about slavery (it wasn’t that long ago) and how we should be able to have those difficult conversations.
“Black history isn’t about shaming white America,” said Nash. “It’s about acknowledgement, reflection, and inspiration. Contrary to some beliefs, being pro-black does not imply being anti-white.”
AdventHealth President and CEO Kevin Roberts talked about the history of Black History Month and talked about how important it is to celebrate diversity. According to Roberts, 27% of AdventHealth’s team members are of African American decent.
“I love Central Texas…and one of the things I love about it is its diversity,” said Roberts. He said that he finds it important to celebrate diversity and, since it’s Black History Month, he wanted to celebrate and share a bit about the many accomplishments of African Americans.
Guest speaker Dr. Charles Mitchell has been working for AdventHealth since 1985. He told his story about how he learned to accept and love himself and others.
“I had a journey to love others and I had a journey to love myself,” said Dr. Mitchell.
Dr. Mitchell was born in 1952 in North Carolina and attended a segregated school which was “not separate and equal”. Mitchell graduated in 1970 and schools became integrated in 1971. Mitchell was one of 12 siblings and said that he was 14 years old before he ever went into town.
“I was introduced to a whole new world,” said Dr. Mitchell. “I was introduced to colored spigots, colored bathrooms, you could not go to a fast food area and go inside…We stood outside through the window and we did our purchase. We were not able to go into the pharmacy.”
Dr. Mitchell said that it was difficult for him growing up and admitted that there were times when he wished he was in a different skin and talked about living in a world that he loved but that didn’t love him back.
Dr. Mitchell described three examples in his life where someone else was able to be a light for him—three people who were able to change his life for the better and made a huge positive impact on his life. The first was Bob King, his biology teacher who accepted him into his classroom and saw Mitchell’s potential. King even invited Mitchell back in 1983 to speak at his old school. His second experience came while he was drafted. After being rejected by a church, a family told them that they were not only welcome, but that they were welcome in their home. Dr. Mitchell’s third experience was in 1974 when he attempted to apply for medical school and the assistant dean (later dean), rather than laughing him away for not meeting their requirements, explained what he needed to do to qualify for their program and was happy to accept him to the school years later.
Dr. Mitchell reminded the audience of the impact of not only your actions, but your words as well.
“You can be a light shining into someone’s darkness without even knowing that they are in darkness,” said Dr. Mitchell.