Tag Archives: black history month

Black History Month 2018

I get excited during the month of February as here at youempoweryourhealth.com, I get to share with you Black History Month, focusing on the many accomplishments as it relates to health and medicine throughout the generations.

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee:  Born in 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee was the oldest of six children.  She is the sister of well-known entertainer, Diana Ross.  As her many siblings pursued their careers in music and entertainment, Ross-Lee also had an interest in show business, but soon turned her focus to medicine.  A graduate of Wayne State University in Michigan in 1965, Ross-Lee later went to Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine where she later opened up a family practice in 1973.  

In 1993, Ross-Lee was named dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University.  She was the first African American woman to be dean of a medical school and one of only a handful of female deans in the country. After a notable career in Ohio, Ross-Lee was appointed vice president for health sciences and medical affairs at the New York Institute of Technology in 2001 and one year later, she became dean of the school’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Richard N. Scott, M.D.:  Dr. Scott is a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, and professor of surgery. He was the first African American surgical intern at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

During his career he was appointed senior research associate at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.  In 1974 with his associates, he developed a new stapling technique for bronchial stump closure following a total lung resection. This technique is now recognized as a standard of care.

Dr. Scott was an associate professor of surgery at Morehouse School of Medicine and is a lecturer in the School of Public Health at Morgan State University. He currently holds the position of professor of surgery and physiology at The All Saints University School of Medicine in Aruba. Dr. Scott continues to actively promote screening and prevention of cardiovascular disease among medically challenged communities and mentors minority students for careers in academic surgery.


This Week in Black History:

dr-_aaron_shirley_courtesy_t670Originally from Gluckstadt, Mississippi, the late Dr. Aaron Shirley was a graduate of both Tougaloo College as well as Meharry Medical College. He set his sights on a pediatric residency out of state, but was invited to apply for a training position at the University of Mississippi Medical Center by then chair of pediatrics, Dr. Blair E. Batson. After much consideration, he accepted, becoming the first African-American resident — and the first black learner in any program — at UMC in 1965. He was the first African American to accomplish this feat. For a long time, Shirley was the only black pediatrician in the state of Mississippi.

He went on to serve as a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics for more than 40 years. His career highlights include co-founding the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, which became a model for federally funded community health centers nationwide. Dr. Aaron Shirley is the founder and Chairman of the Board for the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. The Jackson Mall, formerly a retail mall in the 1970s and 1980s, Shirley saw the deterioration of that area and mall, so decided to become committed to reviving it. In 1995, his concept soon became a reality now known as the Jackson Medical Mall, a one-stop shop health care facility for the underserved. The Jackson Medical Mall is acclaimed as one of the nation’s most unique community health care endeavors.


(I had the great opportunity and honor to meet Dr. Shirley many, many years ago as a former resident of Jackson, Mississippi, not realizing what kind of trailblazing person he would become. It’s so good to actually know someone who has made such a difference in a community as well as establishing a strong foundation, leaving a wonderful legacy for others to follow)!  Thank you Dr. Aaron Shirley.


This Week in Black History 

Dr. Charles Epps, Jr. was a medical pioneer and educator. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 24, 1930. Epps graduated magna cum laude from Howard University with a BS degree in chemistry from Howard University and received his MD degree with honors in 1955.

epps_charles_wmAt 33 years of age, Epps was appointed chief of the  Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Howard. During his tenure as professor and chief, Epps trained more African American men and women in orthopedic surgery than anyone in the world.

After Epps retired in 2001, he also served in a variety of professional organizations, including the American Orthopedic Association, where he was its first African American member.

black history month4

For the remaining weeks in February 2017, each week I will feature a bit of history as well as celebrating many African Americans who made history and are continuing to make history in the field of medicine and healthcare. You can also reach back and read my previous blogs for many great trail-blazers who paved the way for freedom, hope, change, and encouragement:  https://youempoweryourhealth.com/2014/02/02/474/


LaSalle D. Lefall, Jr. was born in 1930 in Tallahassee, Florida and grew up in Quincy, Florida. He graduated high school at the age of 15 in 1945. At the age of 22, he earned his M.D. degree from Howard University.

Dr. Leffall is an American surgeon and oncologist as well as one of the most prominent public health leaders in the fight against cancer. President George W. Bush appointed him as chairman of the President’s Cancer Panel and Dr. Leffall also led the National Dialogue on Cancer.

He was the first black president of the American Cancer Society (1978), as well as the first black president of the American College of Surgeons (1995). He served as chairman of the board of directors for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation from 2002 to 2007.

Not only is Dr. Lefall a surgeon and an oncologist, he also was a medical educator, having taught over 4,500 medical students and trained at least 250 general surgery residents.

Final week in black history:

Matthew Walker, Sr.  was a real trailblazer in establishing Matthew Center Comprehensive Health Center – the first qualified health center in the state of Tennessee.  The center was also the first accreditation by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Hospitals in 1984.

President Barack Hussein Obama as we all know made history by becoming the first African American President of the United States.  Along with many other firsts for him, He is also the first President to pass a universal health insurance – the Affordable Healthcare Act.  Whether you’re for it or against, it was officially signed into law in 2010.

Bessie Blount Griffin – Her work as a physical therapist during World War II inspired her to patent a device that allows amputees to feed themselves.  The American Veterans Administration did not accept her invention, so she eventually donated her rights to the device to the French who were interested in the device.  She later become a forensic scientist after furthering her career in law enforcement in 1969.  She moved up quickly in the ranks and was sent to train and work at the Scotland Yard in England where she again was the first African American there.  Later, being turned down to work for the FBI, she operated her own business as a forensic scientist consultant where she operated the business until 83 years of age.

This week in black history 

Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan is this country’s first black female pediatric surgeon.  She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Medical School. On furthering her education, she is one of few pediatric surgical oncologists in the United States – dedicating her life to finding cures for rare cases of cancer in children.

Marie Maynard Daly was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.  She also investigated the effects of sugar on the coronary arteries and later pioneered in studying the impact of cigarette smoking on the lungs.

Way back in 1822, James Hall was the first black to graduate from a U.S. medical college which was the Medical College of Maine.

This week in Black History health……

Dr. Alexa Irene Canady – the first African-American woman to become a neurosurgeon in the United States.  Born in 1950 in Lansing, Michgan, Dr. Canady went on to college but almost dropped out as a result of her having trouble convincing herself that someone would give her a chance.  She was chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan from 1987 until her retirement in 2001.  She now spends her time speaking and mentoring high school students in Pensacola, Florida.

Provident Hospital and Training School – in Chicago was the first black-owned and operated hospital.  Founded in 1891 by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Provident provided training for black nurses, interns as well as medical treatment for black patients.  It provided services for hundreds of African Americans for nearly 100 years until its closure in 1987.  It reopened in 1993 as part of Cook County’s Health services, providing services to Chicago residents, particularly  those who reside on Chicago’s south side.

William Augustus Hinton – was the first black professor at Harvard Medical School. Hinton finished college in just 3 years, receiving his M.D. in 1912.  He developed what is now known as the Hinton test for syphilis and later the Davis-Hinton test for blood and spinal fluids.  In 1936, Hinton published the first medical textbook by an African-American, “Syphilis and its Treatment”.

Doctors Paula R. Mahone and Karen L. Drake – made medical history when they, along with a team of 40 specialists, delivered the first septuplets born alive in the United states in 1997 in Des Moines, Iowa.

  • Patricia E. Bath  – Ms. Patricia E. Bath is an ophthalmologist and laser scientist who invented a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as laserphaco.  She is also the first woman to chair an ophthalmology residency program in the United States.
  • Charles R. Drew – Known for his innovations in blood transfusions, Dr. Charles Drew was also a surgeon and medical researcher.  With his innovative techniques for better blood storage, Dr. Drew helped to save many lives during World War II, so out of his works and accomplishments emerged the American Red Cross blood bank.
  • Percy Lavon Julian – Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Percy was a chemist who developed a drug that is used in the treatment of glaucoma called physostigmine.  His most notable invention was his chemical synthesis of cortisone/corticosteroids – his starting point for the steroid drug industry.

Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders:   The first person in the state of Arkansas to be board certified in pediatric endocrinology.  In 1993, she was appointed by former President Bill Clinton as the 16th General Surgeon of the United States.

Garrett A. Morgan:  Born to former slaves and only having a formal 6th grade education, Morgan went on to invent several different products.  His most notable accomplishments were receiving a patent for the invention of the first gas mask in 1914.  His other famous invention was the traffic signal.

black history month4

In honor of Black History month and throughout February, I will present a few known and not so well known facts of the many pioneers and their achievements contributing to health and medicine:

  • Born in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Benjamin Carson performed the first successful surgical separation of conjoined  twins joined at the top of their heads.
  • Otis Boykin invented many noteworthy products.  Born in Dallas, Texas in 1920, he later moved to Paris where his most famous invention was the control unit for the pacemaker.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney:   The first black woman to complete nurse’s training .  She also became one of the first black members of the Nurses Association.