NEOMED honors National African-American History Month, Feb. 1-29

Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) is proud to continue its annual observation of African-American History Month with two campus-wide events. The first event is a month-long poster showcase which highlights significant African-American inventors and their inventions that contributed to our world. The posters will be prominently placed around our campus during the month of February.

Our second event will be a viewing of the award winning film “Something the Lord Made” which will take place in two parts on Feb. 18 and Feb. 25 from Noon - 1 p.m. in University Hall A within the NEW Center. “Something the Lord Made” is a true story of two medical pioneers, one celebrated and one overlooked. Alfred Blalock (played by Alan Rickman) is Chief Surgeon at the John Hopkins University, where he is pioneering new techniques in heart surgery. Blalock makes the acquaintance of Vivien Thomas (played by Mos Def), a carpenter hired to work at Hopkins. Blalock is surprised to discover a man of keen intelligence who has a great interest in medicine. Blalock takes Thomas on as a lab assistant and together they forge a poignant and sometimes stormy relationship to develop the so-called “Blue Baby” operation and usher in a golden age of heart surgery. The “Blue Baby” operation, which surgically corrected a congenital defect of the heart known as the Tetralogy of Fallot, broke the last barrier to operating directly on the heart, long considered taboo and an impossibility. This event is part of The Embracing Diversity Series at NEOMED.

National African-American History Month began as a week-long celebration in 1926 when Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D., moved to honor and recognize the accomplishments of African-Americans in ways that would extend beyond a week. Dr. Woodson chose February because of the pre-existing national festivals celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14). Each year, more and more cities and states chose to honor what was known as Negro History Week. There is some debate as to when the week morphed into a month of recognition and celebration. Some cite the first month-long celebrations existed in West Virginia during the 1940s, others the 1960s in Chicago, still others the 1970s at Kent State University under the auspices of the Black United Students organization. The first official national recognition occurred in 1976, which coincided with the Bicentennial. The month-long focus on African-American contributions to the United States and world in all areas, subjects and fields is not automatic. Presidents must annually proclaim that February is African-American History Month.

Please consider joining the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in recognizing the accomplishments and contributions African-Americans have made to society here in Northeast Ohio and around the globe.

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