The Top Achievements In Black Health

young african american woman on a mirror, black and whiteBlack History Month is a time for many things. It is a time to celebrate all our hard-won achievements. It is a time to reflect on the challenging, often heartbreaking road we’ve endured for those achievements. It is a time to come to terms with the fact that, while we’ve succeed in so much, it is a very long road and we, as a community, are at a crossroads – our journey is by no means over.

It is a time to hope for all the future joys and future successes that, with more dedication and more effort, will surely be ours.

Below is a timeline of our amazing healthcare journey (so far)…

1721 – Onesimus, an enslaved African, describes to Cotton Mather, an influential American writer and religious leader, the African method of inoculation against smallpox. This technique, later used to protect American Revolutionary War soldiers, is perfected in the 1790’s by British doctor Edward Jenner’s in the use of a less virulent organism.

1783 Dr. James Durham, born into slavery in 1762, buys his freedom and begins his own medical practice in New Orleans, becoming the first “colored” doctor in the United States. As a youngster, he was owned by a number of doctors, who taught him how to read and write, mix medicines, and serve and work with patients. Durham had a flourishing medical practice in New Orleans until 1801, when the city restricted his practice because he did not have a formal medical degree.

1788 Dr. James Durham is invited to Philadelphia to meet Dr. Benjamin Rush, who wanted to investigate Durham’s reported success in treating patients with diphtheria. Dr. Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of America’s foremost physicians, was so impressed that he personally read Durham’s paper on diphtheria before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Durham returned to New Orleans in 1789, where he saved more yellow fever victims than any other physician – during an epidemic that killed thousands, he lost 11 of 64 patients.