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Celebrate Diversity: Black History Month

February 1 to February 28

February is Black History Month, established to respond to a lack of coverage of Black figures in American history. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded by Carter G. Woodson, initiated the first Black History Week in 1926, which coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (Feb.14) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb.12). This recognition expanded to a full month in 1976 to recognize the central role the Black community has played in American and world history.

The contributions of African and Black Americans in medicine and health care is vast. Visit our Black History Month display tables from Thursday, Feb. 9–Thursday, Feb. 23 at all Penn State Health hospital cafeteria locations and Lime Spring Medical Group. Learn about notable Black physicians and nurses and their contributions to medicine, including:

Daniel Hale Williams, MD, performed one of the first open heart surgeries, paving the way for future surgeons. In 1891, he founded Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first Black-owned hospital and first non-segregated hospital in the U.S. He was also the first Black member of the American College of Surgeons.

Charles Drew, MD, developed new ways to store blood plasma for transfusion. During World War II, he also organized the first large-scale blood bank. He continued his work after the war by designing a blood storage program with the American Red Cross.

Ben Carson, MD, became one of the youngest physicians to direct Johns Hopkins University Pediatric Neurosurgery. In 1987, he performed the first successful separation of twins attached at the back of the head.

Alexa Irene Canady, MD, was first female African American neurosurgeon and made significant  research advances in neurosurgical techniques. Her research led to the invention of a programmable antisiphon shunt to treat hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of fluid inside the brain. Dr. Canady shares a U.S. patent for the shunt with two fellow neurosurgeons.

To learn more:


Check out these events happening in the community, at Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine during Black History Month

Thursday, Feb. 9, noon­–­1pm:  Department of Humanities Grand Rounds Lecture: “ I heard its not common in Black People”- Race, Bias and Ethical Considerations for ALS Research and Care.  Free and open to the public. Attend in-person at Room C3860 500 University Drive, Hershey, Pa. or via Zoom (passcode: 923468).

Monday, Feb. 13, 5:30­–6:30 p.m.:  Make Them Hear You: A Spiritual Journey features critically acclaimed tenor Limmie Pulliam and pianist Mark Markham as they celebrate Black History Month with a program of spirituals and art songs by black composers. Dinner is provided immediately after the concert. To register, email

Thursday Feb. 16th 6pm: Penn State Health and Highmark  host “The State of Black Health” forum at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in the Auditorium

Highmark Inc., Penn State Health, and the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg (WACH) host forum that provides an in-depth look into health disparities facing the African American community with Dr. Oralia Garcia Dominic, Highmark Blue Shield, and Dr. Geoffrey Roche, Harrisburg University, delivering the opening remarks addressing health equity and Black Health. Penn State Health’s own Dr. Eldra Daniels will participate to discuss Top Health Issues Facing African American Men.

The event is open to public online and anyone who wants can join the event is welcome. The State of Black Health Tickets in Harrisburg, PA, United States (

Additional virtual events:

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 7­–9 p.m.: Through the African American Lens: Afrofuturism: The Origin Story – A Smithsonian Channel Documentary

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1–2 p.m.: African Americans in Business: Doing Historical Company Research | Library of Congress (


February 1
February 28


Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
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