"We are responsible for ourselves, but we are also responsible for each other."
Ngina Lythcott ’67, ’04HD, TS has been a public health practitioner and community health activist for almost 50 years.
“Community activism is hard work — one sets lofty goals but micro-mini objectives, each of which must be celebrated to sustain oneself for the long haul. It is most helpful to collaborate with other activists, to keep one’s eye on the larger picture, to see how our struggles are linked, and to be sustained by their achievements.”
Dr. Lythcott is the Breast Cancer Liaison for the Black Women’s Health Imperative, which includes serving on the integration panel of the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and on the advisory board of the Intercultural Cancer Council. She herself is a 24-year survivor of the disease.
Her inspiration came from many sources, she says, but most importantly her father. A pediatrician, “he was often paid for his medical services with the side of a hog or a sweet potato pie. When I was 12, he allowed my brothers and me to actively participate in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council and never said no to our weekly Monday training in nonviolence or our Saturday sit-ins at the various segregated public accommodations, even though we were routinely picked up by the police and held at the station until we were picked up or taken home in a police car with blaring sirens.”
She says the most challenging part of her work is “getting others to see that we are all human beings whose lives are intimately tied to the lives of others, so that when any one of us can be neglected or oppressed, any and all of us can and will be. Yes, we are responsible for ourselves, but we are also responsible for each other.”