Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
To the Parklawn Chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG)
Tuesday, February 9, 1982
Dr. Brandt, the Assistant Secretary for Health, is speaking to the faculty and students of the College of Medicine at Howard
University today, so it is my privilege to be here to represent his office and, indeed, the public health service.
In President Reagan's message on Black History Month, he said, "Understanding our past is the foundation for full
participation in the life of our country." I want to emphasize his use of the word "our." I come here today in
the spirit of celebrating our history -- Black history, Afro-American history, is a part of my history, also. The Black past
is part of my past. Black life in this country is part of my life in this country. This designation of February as national
Afro-American -- or Black -- History Month is important all of us, regardless of our color. This is my month, too.
And that's why I believe all of us have a job to do -- together -- to make life in the United States a fulfilled dream
for every person. This is the special charge, I think, for those of us in the public health service. We need to remain vigilant
for the protection of all our people . . . vigilant against disease and against hunger . . . vigilant against disabilities
and the handicaps that society can place upon the disabled, the poor, the aged, and the disadvantaged . . . vigilant against
prejudice of any kind -- racial or religious, prejudice against color or sex, prejudice against other cultures and ways of
Public health takes in physical health, mental health, and social health. The history of public health is rich with people
of every race and nationality who work to improve the total health of the American people. This month, let's make sure
we remember the contributions made by black men and women for more than two centuries, contributions that help lay the foundation
for our general national health today.
And let's also make sure that we include in today's community of public health leadership the National Medical Association
and the National Dental Association, the National Black Nurses Association, the Association of Black psychologists, and their
very important student affiliates. These and other predominantly black organizations of health professionals have made --
and will continue to make -- important contributions to black history, to public health history, and to the history of this
nation, your history and mine.
In the same vein, let me say that the public health service is committed to the goals of the administration's initiative
to help me historically Black colleges and universities. Last September, President Reagan, by Executive Order, instructed
every Federal department and agency to draw up a plan for providing this help.
What we're talking about is making sure that young, talented Black men and women attending historically Black colleges
and universities have the opportunity for excellence. Secretary Schweiker, Assistant Secretary Brandt, and I, together with
the heads of each public health service agency, join with the president in illuminating "regulatory barriers . . . inequities
and disadvantages" that might prevent those colleges and universities, their students, and their faculty from full participation
in federal programs.
In future years, when Afro-American history month is celebrated, they will be the people standing tall in the ceremonies.
I ask all of you to help us make sure that this is the picture of the future.
Once again, thank you for giving me these few moments on the program. And for myself and for Assistant Secretary Brandt, best
wishes on today's activities.