DELIVERING THE MESSAGE Minority health leader touts Affordable Care Act

Arkansas Minority Health Commission Executive Director Idonia L. Trotter said Friday that the federal Affordable Health Care Act — also known as Obamacare — is not a program created solely for African-Americans by an African-American president, but rather a tool by which all races can benefit.

Trotter — a former Pine Bluff resident who spoke at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s 58th annual Rural Life Conference’s luncheon Friday at the Pine Bluff Convention Center — underscored the importance of extending affordable health care to all citizens and said more whites than blacks will benefit from the historic legislation.

She said the AMHC works for all citizens, hammering home her point in a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

She showed a chart that indicated nearly three times as many whites as blacks would benefit from the AMHC.

Trotter, who said she considers herself a drum major for justice and equality, vowed to never yield in her efforts to work with others to bring advancements in health care to minorities “so they may receive the same quality of care that non-minorities receive.” Toward that goal, Trotter said she has participated in 50 public forums during just the past year.

Encouraging her audience to join in her struggle, she said, “There are plenty of people who never sit at the table of decision, but they depend on those of us who do.”

She encouraged a resolve among those pushing for minority health equality not to become weary.

“This thing is going to happen for our children and our children’s children,” Trotter said, adding that tenacious mindsets and constant advocating generate positive changes.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes,” she said.

Trotter said it’s helpful for those involved in a move for equality to inspire one another and themselves.

“The Bible talks about encouraging yourself,” she said. “You don’t have to have a choir behind you.”

To make a mission for change successful, people should “look for the dreamers and look to the dreamers,” Trotter said.

“We’ve got to keep the torch of the dreamers burning,” she continued. “We have to have people who will do whatever it takes.”

Trotter cautioned that patience and persistence are important, because some advancements may require several generations to achieve.

Trotter insisted that affordable health care is not a “Democratic or Republican thing,” and said that any elected leader who doesn’t support equitable health opportunities for all is “just not right.”

The first Rural Life Conference was held in 1950 and attended by only 15 people. The event now attracts widespread participation of up to several hundred.

The late Sellers J. Parker of UAPB helped organize the event and then served as its chairman. The conference grew to become an annual event under his 30-year guidance. Today’s conferences, which feature assorted learning opportunities, are led by the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.

Friday’s conference included a number of forums, covering such topics as livestock profitability, woodland usages, conservation programs, the Food Safety Modernization Act and nutrition education. Information booths were manned by representatives of UAPB, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National AgriAbility Project, Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corp., and National Agricultural Statistics Service, among others.