RUSH Lives Out MLK’s Legacy With Commitment and Service to West Side

Community programs and MLK Day volunteer events improve residents’ health and well-being
Martin Luther King Jr. waves from the window of his apartment in Chicago
Martin Luther King Jr. waves from the window of his family's apartment in Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood. Photo courtesy of the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation.

When much of the West Side of Chicago was destroyed in the riots that followed Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April 1968, many businesses fled the area. Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital, as RUSH University Medical Center was known at the time, chose to stay on the West Side, providing both the health care and job opportunities so badly needed by the neighboring community.

King himself had lived just a four-mile drive from the hospital in 1966, when he and his family moved to a small apartment on 1500 S. Hamlin Ave. in the Lawndale neighborhood at the invitation of the Chicago Freedom Movement, a civil rights coalition working to improve living conditions for Black Chicago residents.

Today, RUSH is working to improve the health and economic conditions of West Side residents through the numerous community service and health equity initiatives listed below. “Our commitment to health equity is one way to live out (King’s) legacy, today and always,” says Dr. Omar Lateef, president and CEO of RUSH

“We’re very grateful and appreciative of our partnership with RUSH and look forward to continuing this work by building up this community, which has had tremendous challenges, so that we can increase the quality of life for all of God’s children,” says Pastor Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church in West Garfield Park.

RUSH is committed to addressing the root causes of disease through partnerships and innovation

RUSH is developing a diverse talent pipeline for the health care workforce of the future and one that is focused on achieving health equity. 

RUSH honors MLK Day with service and learning

In a longstanding annual tradition, RUSH students, faculty and staff will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in wide range of volunteer and educational activities at RUSH sites and in the surrounding communities. Activities will take place both on MLK Day and before and after the holiday.

RUSH University Day of Service, Jan. 16

RUSH University students, staff and faculty are invited to participate in a wide variety of service activities to honor and advance King’s vision. Opportunities to participate include preparing breakfast for men and women at Franciscan Outreach; providing flu vaccinations and health education in Little Village; making blankets for people who are homeless; assisting with pipeline programs for community school children; attending a keynote speech and much more. 

Virtual Event: Community, Not Chaos, Jan. 18, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

A virtual panel will discuss and reflect on King’s legacy of hope to reclaim justice, equity and liberty. Sponsored by RUSH Generations and the Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement. Register Here

RUSH Oak Park Hospital Coat Drive, Jan. 9-20 

RUSH Oak Park Hospital's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is conducting a coat drive to help community members facing hardship. The committee is accepting new and/or gently used and freshly laundered coats. Collection bins are located near the entrance to the hospital cafeteria on the second floor. The drive is part of the DEI Committee’s MLK Day of Service, when they will be providing coats and care packages to community members facing hardship, including those in need in the hospital’s Emergency Department, inpatient units, and warming center.

Support RUSH’s Community Health Fund

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, please consider making a gift to RUSH’s Community Health Fund. The fund supports RUSH University Medical Center in fulfilling its commitment to improving the quality of life within the diverse communities neighboring the medical center through initiatives and partnerships that provide access to safe housing, quality education, reliable transportation, healthy food and other essential building blocks to good health.