OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, people of Omaha honor the late civil rights icon in a number of ways. Some people learn about inequities communities face while others spend the day volunteering.
UNMC and Nebraska Medicine held their annual MLK Jr. celebration virtually this year. The theme for the event was the famous quote from Dr. King, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?"
Douglas County Commissioner, Chris Rodgers served as the keynote speaker for this year's event.
"Today we recognize this historic figure in the midst of a once in a lifetime pandemic that has further exposed and crystalized the inequities of healthcare and racial reckoning triggered by the brutal murder of George Floyd that has tightened the awareness of the still existent structural racism in our systems," Rodgers said.
Rodgers challenged UNMC and Nebraska Medicine to work to equitably serve the community in their healthcare needs.
"I want to speculate that he would challenge you in three ways by saying one, we are all interconnected so invest like it. Two, goals don’t rise, systems fall and lastly don’t be scared to be big," Rodgers said.
Rodgers highlighted how interdependent we have been shown to be during this COVID-19 pandemic. He asked UNMC and Nebraska Medicine to work to dismantle systemic racism.
In other parts of the community, people used the day to give back. Over 200 people came together at Open Door Mission to pack lunches and help assemble the food pantry.
"It’s special for us at the Open Door Mission to honor Martin Luther King Junior day because of everything he stood for when it came to service and giving back to the community," Candace Gregory, CEO of Open Door Mission said. "We are so excited that have volunteers throughout our campus just leaving their hand print on just about every area of our ministry."
People of all ages worked together at Open Door mission, from elementary school aged kids to grandparents. This was the most volunteers the Open Door Mission had since the beginning of the pandemic.