2018

DR. L.D. BRITT, MD

Chairman and Professor of Surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School
Dr. L.D. Britt was born in Suffolk, Virginia. There were three black physicians in town – typically the only ones who treated black patients – and his family would wait all day for a few minutes of office time. He has a vivid childhood memory of his family packing both lunch and dinner before going to the doctor in Suffolk.
He attended the University of Virginia, where he received his BA and became a member of the Raven Society and was named to the Dean’s List each of the eight semesters. He received his Baccalaureate of Arts with Distinction. Later, after earning Harvard degrees in both medicine and public health, Britt would become the first black physician in America to have an endowed chair in surgery. He could have gone anywhere, but he wanted to come home, so he accepted a job at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he’s been trying to bridge gaps in health care for more than three decades.
In 2017, Britt received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study health care disparities in surgery patients across the country. He will be the principal investigator of this American College of Surgeons study.
“It’s something that should have been done a long time ago,” Britt said in a phone interview. “We have to do better. I’ve seen people die because they didn’t have access to care, and that is not acceptable.”
Americans can be tolerant of differences in sizes of houses and brands of clothing, he said, but they should not tolerate disparity in three areas: clean water, education and health care.

ALICE BALL
1892-1916
Pharmaceutical Chemist

Alice Ball was born in 1892 in Seattle, Washington to Laura and James P. Ball, Jr. – She graduated with two degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry in 1912 and pharmacy in 1914 from University of Washington In the fall of 1914, she entered the College of Hawaii (later the University of Hawaii). On June 1, 1915, she was the first African American and the first woman to graduate with a master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Hawaii. In the 1914-1915 academic year she also became the first woman to teach chemistry at the institution.

Ball was clearly a talented research chemist, especially interested in using oil from the chaulmoogra tree as a potential cure for Hansen disease (leprosy). Although it had been used topically to treat many conditions for hundreds of years, she suspected it would be more effective if it could be injected — and she was right. The “Ball method” continued to be the most effective method of treatment until the 1940s and as late as 1999 one medical journal indicated the “Ball Method” was still being used to treat Hansen disease patients in remote areas.

Unfortunately, Ball died in 1916 and was, therefore, unable to witness the impact her work had on the medical field. She never received the acknowledgement from the medical world for her groundbreaking work in the cure of Hansen disease. After her death the chairman of the University of Hawaii Chemistry Department received recognition. Over time, however, researchers began to learn of Ball’s crucial contribution. In 2000, the University of Hawaii acknowledged Alice A. Ball as one of its most distinguished graduates.


Paul R. Williams, Architect

1894-1980

Paul Revere Williams was born in Los Angeles on February 18, 1894 to Lila Wright Williams and Chester Stanley Williams. When Paul was two years old his father died, and two years later his mother died. Paul was fortunate to grow up in the home of a foster mother who devoted herself to his education and to the development of his artistic talent.

In high school a teacher advised him against pursuing a career in architecture, because he would have difficulty attracting clients from the majority white community and the smaller black community could not provide enough work. Williams did not give up. Confident in his strengths, he simultaneously pursued architectural education and professional experience with Los Angeles’ leading design firms. Certified as a building contractor in 1915, he was licensed as an architect by the State of California in 1921. Earning accolades in architectural competitions and the respect and encouragement of his employers, Williams opened his own practice and become the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923.

As his reputation grew, his practice expanded to include buildings now considered landmarks: MCA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Palm Springs Tennis Club and Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building. The private residences he designed for leaders in business and entertainment became legendary: actor Bert Lehr, comedians Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, dancer Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, popular entertainer Frank Sinatra and the entrepreneurial Cord and Paley families.

Williams also donated design plans for a new location for First A.M.E. Church where he was a member. This is the oldest church founded by African Americans in Los Angeles. When Williams died in 1980 his funeral service was held at the First A.M.E. Church in the building he had designed seventeen years earlier. Pastor Cecil Murray wrote of his childhood friend: “Paul R. Williams not only designed buildings. Paul R. Williams designed lives. Paul R. Williams designed the future and dreams of tomorrow. The blood of Paul R. Williams is in the walls of this church.” (Los Angeles Sentinel, January 31, 1980)

The Great Pyramid of Giza
Some of the most impressive buildings and cities ever made by humans can be found in Africa. It is home to the world’s oldest-known pieces of art. Africa has an extensive archaeological record, extending as far back as when the first-ever stone tool was made in what is today Kenya. It is a racist notion that only Europeans – white people – are the only people capable of great architectural feats.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder of the ancient world that has survived to the present day. The tomb is attributed to Khufu or Cheops, pharaoh in ancient Egypt from 2,620 to 2,580 B.C. Even with modern technology its construction would be a challenge to both engineers, workers, and geologists. It’s the largest pyramid ever built, 482 feet high and 754 feet on each side and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost 4,000 years.

Ancient Egypt was a very highly advanced civilization and the construction techniques used to build the pyramids was not understood by modern man. Instead of acknowledging that black Africans built not only the Pyramid of Giza along with other pyramids, it was commonly cited by pseudo-archaeologists that these structures were built by aliens. These fake theories which were originally racially motivated, are still being promoted in a number of science fiction books and movies. Today, many of these theories can still be found in television shows like Ancient Aliens on the History Channel.

The African-American National Anthem

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” — often called “The Negro National Hymn,” “The Negro National Anthem,” “The Black National Anthem,” or “The African-American National Anthem”— was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1900.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was publicly performed first as a poem as part of a celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900 by 500 school children at the segregated Stanton School – whose history dates to the 1860s, was the first school of education for black children in Jacksonville and its surrounding counties, and was the first school for black children in the State of Florida when it was begun as an elementary school serving the African-American population under the then-segregated education system. Its principal, James Weldon Johnson, wrote the words to introduce its honored guest Booker T. Washington.

The poem was later set to music by Mr. Johnson’s brother, John, in 1905. Singing this song quickly became a way for African Americans to demonstrate their patriotism and hope for the future. In calling for earth and heaven to “ring with the harmonies of Liberty,” they could speak out subtly against racism and Jim Crow laws. In 1919, the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People adopted the song as “The Negro National Anthem.” By the 1920s, copies of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” could be found in black churches across the country, often pasted into the hymnals.

From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

“Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood
Of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world,
We forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Heart Disease in African-American Women

Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 killers in women, and stroke disproportionately affects African-Americans. Importantly, African-American women are less likely than Caucasian women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death.
Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity and a family history of heart disease are all greatly prevalent among African-Americans and are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. What’s more, African-American women have almost two times the risk of stroke than Caucasians, and more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of other ethnicities.

Here are a few unsettling stats:

⦁ Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
⦁ Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
⦁ Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk.
⦁ Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
⦁ Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

The truth about high blood pressure

More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic blacks have high blood pressure, which is more severe in blacks than whites, and develops earlier in life. African-Americans are more likely to develop complications associated with high blood pressure. These problems include stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dementia, and heart disease.
But why is it targeting African-Americans?
Researchers have found that there may be a gene that makes African-Americans much more sensitive to the effects of salt, which in turn increases the risk for developing high blood pressure. In people who have this gene, as little as one extra gram (half a teaspoon) of salt could raise blood pressure by as much as five millimeters of mercury.

Other risk factor for developing high blood pressure include:

⦁ Increased age

⦁ Excessive weight
⦁ A family history of high blood pressure
⦁ Having diabetes
⦁ Inactivity
⦁ High dietary salt and fat
⦁ Low intake of potassium
⦁ Smoking

So what’s the solution?

For starters, cutback on the amount of salt in your diet. In fact, make a serious effort to improve your overall eating habits by learning about heart-healthy foods, and how to prepare them. And of course, if you’re not already active, get moving.

What are the stroke warning signs?

⦁ Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

⦁ Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
⦁ Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
⦁ Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
⦁ Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

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