NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “I’ve tried my best in the role that I’m in to avoid politics and getting into the racial stuff, but when I saw the video of what happened in Minneapolis, I was crushed.”
Honest words from Dr. James Hildreth, the man who’s spent countless hours helping Nashville navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s reacting to the widely-circulated video of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on 46-year-old George Floyd’s neck.
“It took all the energy out of me and I just wonder, what am I doing? Does any of this matter? When you have something like this happening in the middle of something that should have brought us all together. I just think we’re better than that. And, every time I think we’ve made some progress, something happens to remind us that maybe we’ve not come as far along as we thought we were,” said Hildreth.
A reality that hits close to home for Dr. Hildreth.
“I have a son who’s in his mid-20s,” says Hildreth, “and, I worry for him.”
A legitimate concern for a father who’s also endured prejudice.
“There are things I can’t take for granted because of the color of my skin.”
Hildreth is a member of Mayor John Cooper’s COVID-19 task force and the CEO of Meharry Medical College. He’s testified before Congress, was the first African American Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas to attend Harvard.
The doctor went on to study at Oxford and Johns Hopkins University and is internationally recognized for his research on HIV and AIDS.
Yet, when not armed with this white medical coat, his accomplishments seem to disappear.
“When I’m in my uniform, and I go to places, the response would be very different than if I were dressed the way I do if I were working in the yard, or what have you. It just makes me sad, Alex. It does,” said Hildreth.
Even still, Hildreth loves this country and vows to continue the fight.
“I feel blessed to have been born in the United States of America because of the freedoms we have the opportunity we have. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Hildreth, “because I think it’s important, but there’s a weariness that you feel. I think you understand what I’m saying.”