Last month, Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Kelvin W. Scott passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Scott became Director of the Department in February 2009, after serving as a Civil Rights Commissioner since 2004. Previously in his professional life, Scott was Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Plastech Engineered Products, Inc.
He also worked as Associate Corporate Counsel for MASCO Corporation, Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Michigan, and associate attorney and partner with the law firm Dickinson Wright.
Although the professional career was impressive, his volunteer career was even more so. Among many other things he was recently elected chair of the Board of Legal Aid and Defender of Detroit, past president of the Wolverine Bar Association and former Chairman of the Board of the Eastside Emergency Center.
These experiences and a belief-driven sense of justice served him well at MDCR. In his brief time as Director, he oversaw the launch of the statewide investigation into the conditions of migrant and seasonal farmworkers and the successful series of Root Beer Summits on Race and Diversity held in November 2009.
Both projects exemplified what Director Scott stood for: at the same time an unyielding sense of protecting what is fair, while recognizing that we must all work together across differences for the common good. These characteristics, along with the mind of a perfectionist and strategic thinker, would have made Scott an excellent Michigan civil rights leader for years to come.
Instead, another agent for positive change was lost to the world on February 20th at age 48.
Public Forum on Disparities in Access to Quality Health Care
Perhaps in a fitting tribute to Director Scott, on March 22, 2010, the Civil Rights Commission is hosting a public forum in Lansing on disparities in access to quality health care. According to the 2008 Health Disparities Report published by the Michigan Department of Community Health, “In Michigan, as in the United States, racial and ethnic minority populations carry a disproportionately heavy burden from health disparities.”
This burden manifests itself most readily in life expectancy, where on average, black men in Michigan live seven years less than white men, eight years less than black women, and 13 years less than white women.
As part of this forum, the Commission is requesting verbal testimony regarding instances where residents believe they have been denied quality health care for discriminatory reasons. Persons wishing to testify should attend the public forum to tell the Commission their story.
This will also mark the first public forum for Interim MDCR Director Dr. Daniel Krichbaum, who was appointed by the Commission in a special meeting on March 3rd. Krichbaum currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Governor Granholm, and is a former President and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.
The forum is scheduled for Monday, March 22nd beginning at 5:30 p.m., in the Capital Area Michigan Works Building, 2110 S. Cedar Street in Lansing. For more information call 1-800-482-3604.