In honor of Black History Month, we asked our student ambassadors to highlight a historical fact about a famous African-American (and just like the wonderful public health students they are, they all chose African-Americans who have made significant contributions to the field of public health).
Kate Colpetzer, Health Services Management student
Do you know who Deborah Prothrow-Stith is? She was the first woman Commissioner of Public Health in Massachusetts! Prothrow-Stith is a trailblazer in the field of public health due to her research on the topics of youth violence and the effect that it has on communities.
She is a strong voice in the conversation that youth violence is not an issue to be managed by the criminal justice system, but rather through public health intervention and prevention. Currently, Prothrow-Stith serves as the Dean of the College of Medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, located in Los Angeles, CA.
Deborah Prothrow-Stith is an important Black woman to celebrate and honor during #BHM2023, especially for those of us in the field of public health and medicine!
Lucy Khatib, Epidemiology student
For Black History Month we would like to appreciate and highlight African Americans who work in public health. Michelle Williams is a renowned epidemiologist who has shaped perinatal and pediatric epidemiology. She has published over 450 papers and is the dean of faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health. For me it was very interesting to look at her work within pediatric care.
Pediatric care in the U.S. has a lot to improve upon with a variety of outcomes, especially for women of color. If you are interested in epidemiology or pediatric data and analysis look into Dr. Williams!
Jaida Speth, Health Services Management student
“What do you know about African-Americans and science?”
February is Black History Month, honoring the triumphs and struggles of African-Americans throughout United States history. Today, I am choosing to honor Henrietta Lacks for her contribution to public health around the world.
Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman whose cervical cancer cells are the source of the ‘HeLa’ cell line, one of the medical research’s most essential and immortalized cell lines.
Since her passing in 1951, her cells have been used to test the polio vaccine that protected millions and provided the basis for IVF, gene mapping, anti-cancer drugs, and other major medical discoveries.
Henrietta Lack’s story is one of inequity and her enduring legacy is to rectify unjust disparities in global health.
The history between African Americans and science is a long and rather unpleasant one, but I challenge you to dive deeper into the history this month because ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’