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VUMC’s Black Lives Day of Commitment makes an impact

Nov. 2, 2020, 12:42 PM

Among those taking part in the Black Lives Day of Commitment event were, from left, André Churchwell, MD, Sharon Albers, Pepper Heifner, Fernando Murphy and Del Ray Zimmerman. (photo by Erin O. Smith)

Nearly 100 people took part in Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Black Lives Day of Commitment last week.

Jackie Montague gets emotional as she kneels during the event. (photo by Erin O. Smith)

Sponsored by the Office for Diversity Affairs and the Department of Dermatology at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, the event was held to honor lives lost to racism, provide information about the health disparities facing the African American community and to compel participants to commit to taking a stand against racism.

Participants knelt on placemats spaced 6 feet apart to honor the life and tragic death of George Floyd. Around the room were signs with statistics of health disparities faced by Black Americans, which participants could choose to hold while they knelt.

After kneeling, participants could sign a board declaring how they would commit to being against racism and could take a commitment card that suggested other ways they could fulfill their commitment.

From left, VUMC employees Tiffany Morgan, left, and Emily Jordan kneel during the event. (photo by Erin O. Smith)

“We had 97 participants who signed in, and between them, the organizers of the event and those who did not have time to kneel but came in to look at the timeline, take cards and talk with us, we estimate that well over 100 people were impacted by the event,” said Pepper Heifner, associate program manager for VUMC’s Program for LGBTQ Health and one of the event’s organizers.

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