It’s Black History Month and we are celebrating with all our communities, friends, and families – but let’s remember that Black History is more than just a month. We may use this month to be reminded of the many achievements of African Americans throughout history, but we should also use this month – and all our days – to learn more about events and people that shaped our history.
Because healthcare is where our heart is, we took a moment to learn more about Rebecca Lee Crumpler. In 1864, she became the first black woman to be earn an M.D. in the United States. For the next year, Dr. Crumpler practiced in Boston before in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, she moved to Richmond, VA. There, she worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau, missionary and community groups to provide medical care to freed slaves, women, and children. She would go on to say it was…
“…a proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children. During my stay there, nearly every hour was improved in that sphere of labor.”
With her time in Richmond coming to a close, Dr. Crumpler returned to her home in Boston, opening a clinic where she treated people… “regardless, in a measure, of remuneration.” In 1883, she published the Book of Medical Discourses, having based it on journal notes she kept on her during her years in practice.
Though not much as survived her passing, her book has, showcasing her amazing achievements as both physician and writer. But there are many more greats who have given to history without being recognized. Here’s more:
Bayard Rustin: One of the primary organizers of the March on Washington. Bayard Rustin was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement long before it gained national attention. In 1947, he was key to starting one of the first Freedom Rides, a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and one of Martin Luther King Jr’s most important advisors.
Lewis Latimer: The son of escaped slaves and an inventor, Lewis went on to create a filament that extended the life of lightbulbs – helping pave the way for Thomas Edison’s first few creations to last longer than a few days. In fact, Lewis Latimer’s filament made light bulbs cheaper, more efficient, and made it possible for them to be used in everyday life, from town streets to homes.
Claudette Colvin: At the young age of 15, Claudette Colvin was the first individual who chose not to sit at the back of the bus – instead, she stated her constitutional rights to sit in the middle and challenged the driver’s intentions.
Jane Bolin: In 1931, Jane Bolin became a pioneer in law she became the first African American woman to attend Yale Law School. In 1939, she became the first Black female judge in the U.S., serving for 10 years and helped private companies to hire individuals based on skill rather than discriminating based on color.
There are still a plethora of individuals that have contributed greatly to the advancement of equality such as Alvin Ailey, Phillis Wheatley, Bessie Coleman and even more recent history-makers like Mae Jemison. With such a vast amount of names out there and so much history to share, we hope that you too can take the time to learn about someone new or something different this Black History Month.