Did you know that one of the first successful heart surgeries performed was by an African American? Dr. Daniel Hale Williams graduated from the Chicago Medical College, which is now known as Northwestern University in 1883. Unfortunately upon graduation he was not able to work in Chicago hospitals simply because of the color of his skin. However like many of our ancestors he made a way out of no way. In 1891 he founded the Providence Hospital and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois. It was the first non-segregated hospital in the U.S. Soon after, in 1893, Dr. Williams performed a surgery on a patient who had suffered a stab wound to the left side of his heart. The patient fully recovered and in 1897 the outcome of the surgery was officially reported and documented.
As we continue to celebrate Black History month and those who paved the way for our freedom, let’s not forget that we can celebrate their efforts and tremendous sacrifice daily by taking pride in ourselves our families and our community. Those such as Dr. Williams were passionate about the health of the African American community. Although he faced barriers he overcame them and as a result we now have access to health care. We cannot take this for granted. And though disparities continue to exist we must pick up the torch of our ancestors and continue to fight for change.