The Shambles of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy From Los Angeles To His Hometown

Published December 13, 2007

The impending closure of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia (“Atlanta Hospital in Grave Condition,” November 23) shows how politically mismanaged public health entities flounder when millions of taxpayer dollars are squandered on inept personnel and costly patronage systems. While some politicians are quick to decry the loss of a legacy of black nurses and doctors serving black indigents, this health care facility, which sits blocks away from Dr. Martin Luther King’s grave, has failed to uphold his color-blind goal of providing quality health care for all the poor.

The state legislature, Fulton and DeKalb counties’ elected officials, will likely overlook fiscal indiscretions and unaccountable political hirings that undermined sound management practices. The blame game will ensue with local leaders fingering the federal government, Medicaid collections, and competition from the private sector as the villains. In the end, just as King Harbor hospital in the gang-infested Los Angeles Watts community was closed last August after much public hand-wringing and nostalgia from black leaders, Atlanta’s leaders must accept responsibility for fumbling the legacy of the architect of the “Poor People’s Campaign” in his hometown.

Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is local legislation manager for The Heartland Institute.