Black History Month, famous every month of February, commemorates the many, often overlooked, contributions that African Americans have made to society. American historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson came up with the idea in 1926 as a way to share his love for black history with students. Today, African American History Month, as it is also known, is one of the most celebrated cultural events. heritage month on the American calendar.
In 2022, the month observance East dedicated to the health and well-being of the African-American community, while recognizing the achievements of black physicians practitioners and scientist pioneers. Here are two pioneers who have dedicated their lives to help others.
Dr. James McCune Smith
Dr. James McCune Smith was not just any doctor – he was the first African American to earn a medical degree. Corn slave at birth, Smith was released in 1827 at age 14, by the New York Emancipation Act. He was one of the first beneficiaries of the African Free School of New York. Founded in 1787 by New York’s governing elites, it aimed to prepare free and enslaved African Americans ‘so that they might become good and useful ‘citizens of the state.’
Smith, who was a excellent student, aspired to become a doctor. However, he was refuse admission to several American universities because of his race. Instead, he attended the University of Glasgow in Scotland in 1832. After graduating with honors and three degrees, Smith returned home to New York in 1837 and opened the first drugstore owned and operated by African Americans in the country.
Smith realized that educational opportunities like the one he received were impossible for African Americans in the United States, where slavery was still legal in southern states. Determined to change that, he joined forces with abolitionists like Frederick Douglass. He also helped found the National Council of Colored People – the first permanent national organization of black Americans.
the prolific the writer has also contributed articles to medical journals and written numerous essays challenging common misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine and society in general. Smith spent the last two years of his life working as a teacher of anthropology at Wilberforce College in Ohio. It was the first African-American college owned and operated by African Americans.
Dr Kizzmekia Corbett
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is one of thousands of behind-the-scenes heroes leading the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) immunologist led the team of scientists that helped develop what became the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
by Corbett potential was first recognized by his third-grade teacher, Sue Florence. She told Rhonda Brooks, Corbett’s mother, “She has a gift. You better search. His comments stimulated Brooks for setting high expectations for Corbett at school. At 15, she was selected for to participate in the SEED Project, a program that provides research experiences to talented high school students from underrepresented groups in STEM. Her summer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) chemistry lab got her hooked on the subject.
After earning a dual degree in biology and sociology at the University of Maryland, Corbett went on to earn his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from UNC. As fate would have it, she spent her six years at the NIH leading a research team that studied potential vaccines against other coronaviruses, such as MERS. So when COVID-19 hit, Corbett and his team had the know-how to fight the pandemic.
The 35-year-old recently joined Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health as an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Although his new role involves the search for new coronaviruses and other infectious diseases, Corbett’s disease quest end the current pandemic is far from over. She now leads the charge of educate and convince unvaccinated Americans of vaccine safety.
“I’ve basically spent the last year, I guess, fighting misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines,” she told The Associated Press.. “We think we can just say, ‘The science is good,’ and people are going to say, ‘OK, yes, I’m going to take the vaccine,’ when their questions instead require greater Warning.”
Happy Black History Month!
Resources: Wikipediea.org, chaamp.virginia.edu, nature.com, asm.org, www.hsph.harvard.edu