Celebrating Black History Month
In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson initiated “Negro History Week,” which was expanded to Black History Month in 1976. Reportedly, he selected February in recognition of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12) and the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14).
Many of the countless contributions of Blacks to medicine and healthcare are well-know, such as:
Daniel Williams, MD, who in 1893 founded Provident Hospital in Chicago–the first interracial and black-owned hospital. He was the first black member of the American College of Surgeons and co-founded the National Medical Association with Robert Boyd, MD.
Mary Mahoney, RN, was the first black woman awarded a nursing degree, when she graduated from New England Hospital for Women and Children’s training school for nurses in 1879. She later became one of the first black members of the American Nurses Association.
Blacks also played other critical roles in healthcare that are less known. For example, a slave introduced inoculation to America. Onesimus, who was likely born in Africa, was owned by the Puritan church minister Cotton Mather. In the early 1700s, Onesimus instructed Mather on the African tradition of inoculation: extracting the material from an infected person and scratching it into the skin of an uninfected person. The practice was experimented with during the 1721 smallpox epidemic in Boston and used more widely to inoculate American Revolutionary War soldiers.
Celebrate and be inspired by healthcare executives who share invaluable insights from their career journeys. Also visit the National Association of Health Services Executives.
John E. Green, Jr.