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‘Remembering the ‘noble, determined’ during Black History Month

February is Black History Month, so I decided to share some of the wonderful information that I did not know that I think others might appreciate as I have.

Anyone who has ever needed plasma can thank Charles Drew, an African-American physician (190401950). His research discovered that, by separating plasma from blood and refrigerating them separate, they last longer, become less contaminated and that plasma can be used by everyone, whereas red blood has a type. Due to this discovery many wounded soldiers during World War II were saved, as many are to this day.

Daniel Hale Williams, 1856-1931. Born in Pennsylvania to a family of nine, his father died of tuberculosis when Williams was 9. His mother was unable to manage, thus some of the kids lived with relatives and Daniel became an apprentice to a shoemaker. He ran away, returning to his mother, then later moved to Wisconsin to be with his sister, where he opened a barber shop. It was in Janesville, Wis., that he decided to follow a path to become a physician because it was then that he became fascinated by a local physician. He apprenticed with Dr. Palmer for two years. He entered Chicago Medical College (Northwestern University Medical School) in 1880 and, after graduation, opened his own medical office. In 1893, he conducted the world’s first successful heart surgery. This open-heart surgery was performed at Provident Hospital in Chicago, which he had opened and was the country’s first interracial hospital and nursing school. He is noted for saying, “A people who don’t make provision for their own sick and suffering are not worthy of civilization.”

William Augustus Hinton, 1883-1959. His parents were former slaves. A bacteriologist and pathologist, he was the first Black professor at Harvard Medical School. He developed a test for syphilis. The test was so accurate that it was used by the United States Public Health Service. In memory of his parents and the values and ideas they embodied, he established $75,000 into a special scholarship fund for Harvard graduate students and named the scholarship fund after President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He named it such for he believed that Eisenhower made great efforts in providing equal opportunity employment during his administration.

Garrett Morgan, 1877-1963. When we come to a traffic signal, we can thank Garrett Morgan for his patent in 1922, the first traffic signal to offer three lights. The third light was the “cautious” light, which, of course, is the yellow one. In 1912, he patented his “Breathing Device,” which was the earliest version of a gas mask.

I hope you take the time to read more of the many fascinating histories of noble and determined people of our Black history, which is our American History.

Sandy Gettelfinger |

Corydon, Ind.