The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has chosen the theme for Black History Month 2022 as “Black Health and Wellness.” This theme explores the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (eg: birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora.

Throughout history, the Black community has created a dynamic of self-determination, mutual aid and social support initiatives that has resulted in the building of hospitals, medical and nursing schools.  These efforts came about to combat the economic and health disparities and discrimination that were, and still are, found at mainstream medical facilities. This year’s theme is timely against the backdrop of the continuing pandemic and disproportionate impact it is having on communities of color. While the information below is centered on celebrating advances by the Black community, it is a great reminder for all of us, regardless of our backgrounds and race, to take a moment to assess both our physical and mental well-being and make action plans to ensure we are all taking care of ourselves.

The following books highlight several different dimensions:

  • Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington
  • Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability edited by Stephanie Y. Evans
  • Caring for Equality: A History of African American Health and Healthcare by David McBride

Division Spotlights

Black Trailblazers in Medicine

  • Alexa Irene Canady, first female African American neurosurgeon
  • James Durham, first African American physician
  • Rebecca Lee Crumpler, first African American woman to earn a medical degree
  • James McCune Smith, first African American man to earn a medical degree

Ways to Celebrate Black History Month