By: Tori Schaddel
With February ending, we want to take the time as an organization to reflect on Black History Month. Indiana University Dance Marathon stands as an organization in support of inclusivity and diversity. With the emphasis on supporting black lives, specifically this past year through the Black Lives Matter movement, we want to reflect on Black History Month and highlight some of the ways our organization continued the conversation. Since 1976, Black History Month has been officially recognized as an annual celebration of achievements and contributions by African Americans and an important time to recognize the central role of black Americans throughout history. Black History Month dates back further to 1915, over half a century after the creation of the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. As an organization during Black History Month, IUDM took to social media to highlight influential Black leaders in the history of medicine throughout the month of February:
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was born in 1856. He became a surgeon’s apprentice, studying medicine at Chicago Medical College. He was one of only four Black physicians practicing medicine in Chicago at the time. Dr. Williams was responsible for founding Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses in 1891, the nation’s first interracial hospital and nursing school. He went on to become the first surgeon to perform open-heart surgery on a human. Without Dr. Williams, some of the necessary steps towards creating racial equality in the medicine field would not be possible.
Mary Eliza Mahoney was born in 1845. At the age of 18, she decided to pursue a career in the nursing field and began working as a cook, janitor, and washerwoman for the New England Hospital for Women and Children. After 15 years of work at the age of 33, she made history by being one of the only women to complete the program and the first licensed African American nurse. Her drive to address racial discrimination in the healthcare system did not stop there; she continued to stand for ending racial discrimination, specifically in the nursing field, and focused on women’s inequality as well.
Patricia Bath was born in 1942. She became passionate about the medicine and science fields and went on to attend college at Hunter College and medical school at Howard University. During her internship post-graduation at the Harlem Hospital, she participated in an ophthalmology fellowship where she discovered that African Americans were two times as likely to be blind as a result of their lack of access to ophthalmic care. Patricia was not only the first African American to complete an ophthalmic residency, but she was also the first African American female to receive a medical patent and continued prioritizing racial discrimination in the ophthalmic field during her career.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett was born in 1986. She received a Ph.D in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has made her mark as a current viral immunologist at the Vaccine Research Center and recently, made a major impact on the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 at only 35 years old. Thanks to her work, the world is able to receive more tools to combat this disease.
Pictured from top to bottom: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Mary Eliza Mahoney, Patricia Bath, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett