Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history. Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation.

The contributions made by African and Black American medical professionals to health and wellness are significant and we know that without their imagination, knowledge, and desire to help others many lives would have been lost. Here are some of those professionals:

  • James McCune Smith, MD (1813 — 1865) was a man of firsts. In 1837, he became the first black American to receive a medical degree. He was also the first black person to own and operate a pharmacy in the United States and the first black physician to be published in U.S. medical journals.
  • Charles Drew, MD (1904 1950) – American physician, surgeon and medical researcher known as the inventor of the blood bank.
  • Patricia Bath, MD (1942-2019) – the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology. She is also the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment.

The list goes on and on. This February, we celebrate all their accomplishments and contributions.