African American Healers

African American Healers

by Clinton Cox, Margaret Cox, Jim Haskins
     
 

Throughout American history, determined African Americans have become healers. As doctors, nurses, and scientists, they have made vital contributions to the health of the American people.

The road to attaining the knowledge these healers longed for was a difficult one. But they kept going, despite the obstacles. These healers would not only mend the ills of the

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Overview

Throughout American history, determined African Americans have become healers. As doctors, nurses, and scientists, they have made vital contributions to the health of the American people.

The road to attaining the knowledge these healers longed for was a difficult one. But they kept going, despite the obstacles. These healers would not only mend the ills of the sick, but would also found schools, build hospitals, and fight for equal treatment as well as for the rights of their patients.

These true and inspiring stories of some of the great African American healers show you how:

Dr. James Durham, the first African American doctor, saved the lives of more yellow fever victims than most doctors in colonial Philadelphia.

  • Susie King Taylor began nursing both black and white soldiers at the age of thirteen when the Civil War began and cared for them throughout the war.
  • Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who founded Provident Hospital in Chicago, saved a patient's life by performing the first successful open-heart operation.
  • Dr. Justina Laurena Ford, the first black female physician in the Rocky Mountains, treated patients of all races in their homes, and became fluent in eight languages.
  • Dr. Charles Drew invented the blood bank and discovered new uses for plasma.
  • Dr. Benjamin Carson blazed a trail in the amazing field of brain surgery.

This outstanding collection brings to light these and dozens of other exciting and surprising tales of the men and women of medicine who lived their dreams.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471246503
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
12/14/1999
Series:
Black Stars Series
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
1,382,787
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

James Durham of New Orleans, Louisiana, the first black doctor in the United States, hurried through the streets of Philadelphia, eager to meet Dr. Benjamin Rush. Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the foremost medical man of his day, was just as eager to meet the twenty-six-year-old African American.

Although Dr. Durham had only been fourteen years old when Dr. Rush had signed the Declaration of Independence, the younger man's reputation for healing was now well known. And Dr. Rush had an urgent problem. How could he keep more people from dying in the terrible diphtheria epidemic that was sweeping the city of Philadelphia?

The epidemic of diphtheria had killed 119 people in Philadelphia in a single day. Physicians looked on helplessly as patients died from the dreaded disease. Rush had already lost his sister and three pupils. Doctor Durham, however, had developed a successful treatment for diphtheria. Benjamin Rush wanted to learn how Durham had saved so many people. Perhaps Dr. Durham's knowledge could help him stop the diphtheria epidemic.

Like other members of the black population, Durham was struggling to make a place for himself in the new nation. He had been born in Philadelphia, but the place Durham (sometimes spelled Derham) was trying to make was unusual for anyone in those times, and especially for a black man: He was struggling for acceptance as a doctor.

Durham had been born into slavery, but he had learned to read and write. Like most doctors in this country, he had learned his profession by studying under other doctors. While still a small child, he was put to work mixing medicines by a physician who bought him from another slave owner. At age eleven, Durham was bought by yet another doctor, who taught him to perform "some of the more humble acts of attention to his patients."

Finally, when he was twenty-one, the determined Durham managed to buy his freedom and begin his own medical practice in New Orleans. His fluency in French, Spanish, and English made him one of that city's most popular doctors, and he soon became one of its most distinguished ones as well.

Durham finally met Rush on that day in 1788, and gave him such good information that Rush ended up reading the young man's paper on diphtheria before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. "I have conversed with him upon most of the acute and epidemic diseases of the country where he lives," Rush said later, "and was pleased to find him perfectly acquainted with the modern simple mode of practice in those diseases. I expected to have suggested some new medicines to him, but he suggested many more to me."

Durham returned to New Orleans in 1789. There, he managed to save the lives of more yellow fever victims than most doctors of his time, losing only eleven of sixty-four patients during an epidemic that raged through New Orleans.

Only three years later, however, the city of New Orleans limited his work because he did not have a formal medical degree. He continued to write to Dr. Rush, but today no one knows what happened to Dr. Durham after 1802. Despite his achievements, the idea that black people were incapable of understanding medicine remained widespread in the decades to come. In the face of often incredible odds, however, many African American men and women wrote their names into history as outstanding doctors, nurses, and researchers.

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