Endowed lectureship honors one of Oregon’s first African-American physicians who practiced at Emanuel
“It’s exciting and an honor to have my grandfather’s legacy celebrated with a lectureship in health equity,” says Marsha Jordan, granddaughter of the late civil rights pioneer and one of Oregon’s first Black physicians. “He held strong philosophies around health promotion, wellness, and equity.”
On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, David R. Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., international health equity expert from Harvard, will speak on “Getting to Health Equity” at Maranatha Church, 7 – 8 p.m. (4222 N.E. 12th Ave., Portland 97211) as part of the Dr. DeNorval Unthank Endowed Lectureship in Health Equity. This annual lecture series was created to honor Dr. Unthank. It is free and open to the public.
Dr. Unthank (1899-1977) joined the Emanuel Hospital staff in1955 and was eventually named to the hospital’s board of directors. He was a dedicated doctor and civil rights activist who broke racial barriers. He was the first African-American member of the Portland City Club and a co-founder of the Portland Urban League and was named Doctor of the Year in 1958. He achieved dozens of other honors and a park in N.E. Portland bears his name.
His legacy of health lives on through his granddaughter. Jordan works as a part-time coordinator for one of Legacy Emanuel's communty partners, the African American Health Coalition, where she facilitates courses on diabetes management and prevention. A long-time hair stylist, she shares information on chronic disease management or heart attack risk factors with her mostly Black female clientele. She also understands how physical fitness, along with diet, is key to managing many chronic diseases and weight. This led her to become a trained water aerobics instructor.
About Dr. Williams
"I believe that your race does not have to be a determinant of your destiny,” said Dr. Williams. “Every seven minutes a black person dies prematurely in the United States. Over 200 black people die every single day, who would not die if the health of blacks and whites were equal.”
Dr. Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University.
He is internationally recognized for his scholarship on the complex ways in which such determinants as socioeconomic status, racism and stress can impact health. Following apartheid in South Africa, he directed the penultimate study assessing the effects of HIV/AIDS, exposure to racial discrimination and torture on the health of South Africans. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is widely used in health studies around the globe. Dr. Williams’ TEDMED 2016 talk on how racism makes us sick has drawn millions of views. He will discuss the forces fueling health disparities and how to intervene, making Oregon – and America - healthier for all.
In Oregon specifically, members of underserved communities are more likely to be diagnosed with, and suffer disproportionately from, such chronic illnesses as asthma, diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS and to die prematurely from these and other causes. Low birth weights among communities of color in Portland are 37 percent worse than for white babies. These broad, persistent disparities are neither mysterious nor preordained. They are driven by factors that include unconscious bias in our health care system
The lectureship was created through the OHSU Foundation due to the generous support and vision of Drs. William and Nathalie Johnson, in partnership with OHSU, Legacy Health and Moda Health. “It’s clear that our health care system still works far better for some than it does for others” says Dr. William Johnson, president of Moda Health. “And those others always seem to include the poor and the marginalized, the chronically underserved,” says Dr. Nathalie Johnson, medical director of Legacy Cancer Institute. “It’s imperative now that we all work, together, to make health equity the cornerstone of health care transformation.”
For more information about the lectureship: http://bit.ly/2FUEIhk
 Curry-Stevens, A., Cross-Hemmer, A., & Coalition of Communities of Color (2010). Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile. Portland, OR: Portland State University.
Dr. David Williams, TEDMED 2016
Dr. DeNorval Unthank, daughter Lesley Unthank
Marsha Jordan, Legacy Health
Vicki Guinn, Legacy Emanuel Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org. 503-413-2939