Leading The Way: African-American Physicians

[Photo: Mos Def as Dr. Vivien Thomas in the HBO film Something The Lord Made]I like to give credit where credit is due, and there is no better time to do this than Black History Month. We even get an extra day this year.Hip-Hop would not exist if it were not for the pioneers of the culture like DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, The Rock Steady Crew, Grand Wizard Theodore and Coke La Rock just to name a few. That being said, there would be no blood banks or open-heart surgery if not for the contributions of African-American physicians and scientists. Here’s a small list of the brothers and sisters who made it possible for me and many others to go to medical school, cure disease and bring good health information to the community of AllHipHop.com and the world. ImhotepThe Father of MedicineLife: 2635-2595 BC (differs depending on source)Medical School: Did not have a medical school during his time, so he created his own.Contribution: A man of multiple talents (architect, scribe), his best-known writings was medical text. He is believed to be the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms and 48 injuries are described. He founded a medical school in Memphis long before Hippocrates was born. All who understand its origins crown Imhotep the father of medicine. Compared to: DJ Kool Herc. Inspired the Merry-Go-Round- using two turntables at one time and creator of the break beat. Herc is considered the Father of Hip-Hop.Dr. James DurhamBorn into slaveryLife: 1762- time of death unknown.Medical School: None; he was owned and taught by a number of white physicians to read, write, mix medicines, and treat patients. He bought his freedom and began his own medical practice in New Orleans, however the city restricted his practice, as he had no formal medical training.Contribution: He treated more patients successfully for yellow fever than any other physician in the country. He was so impressive that his publication on diphtheria was read before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.Compared to: Afrika Bambaataa. Master of Records - had over 20,000 pieces of vinyl. Organized the very first international Hip-Hop tour. Dr. James McCune Smith Life: 1813-1865Medical School: University of Glasgow in ScotlandContribution:  First African-American to earn a medical degree.Compared to: The Twins, Keith and Kevin Smith. Inspired the B-Boy Style or break dancing, which included matching outfits with trench coats and hats. They would jump on the floor and create dance moves to DJ Kool Herc’s beats.Dr. Daniel Hale WilliamsLife: 1858-1931Medical School: Chicago Medical College Contribution: Performed the first successful operation on a human heart. The patient, a victim of a stab wound to the chest, lived 20 years after his open-heart surgery. Williams also established the Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, which was the first African-American owned and first interracial hospital in the United States.Compared to: Grand Wizard Theodore. Creator of the needle drop and the scratch, two of the most fundamental techniques any DJ using vinyl should posses. Dr. Charles DrewLife: 1904-1950Medical School: Howard UniversityContribution: Dr. Drew researched blood plasma and blood transfusions for several years while in New York. He discovered that blood could be stored and used at a later date. He developed the system for storing blood, called a blood bank. He also established the American Red Cross blood bank. As a result, he has saved and continues to save the lives of many who need blood transfusions.Compared to: Melle Mel. Godfather of the Rhyme. Grandmaster Melle Mel has been given the title as the greatest lyricist ever. As a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, he was the principle scribe for “The Message” and “White Lines.” The group’s songs dominated the airways between 1979 and 1984. Vivien ThomasLife: 1910-1985Medical School: Vanderbilt University Medical School. He was also a surgical research technician at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine, research associate and supervisor of surgical research laboratories. He was appointed to the medical school faculty at JHU in 1977, although he never attended medical school.Contribution: Thomas was a scientific genius with superb surgical skills. Thirty years before Johns Hopkins admitted its first Black surgical resident, Thomas served as a research technician without a degree, and was teaching operative techniques to white staff surgeons at the university's hospital. Compared to: Mos Def… who else? Mos Def portrayed Mr. Vivien Thomas on the HBO special Something The Lord Made. Mos Def is a multi-talented artist, and can be seen in movies, hosting Def Comedy Jam, and he recently appeared on Bill Maher’s talk show Real Time with Cornell West.Dr. Mae C. JemisonLife: 1956-Medical School: Cornell University Medical SchoolContribution: First African-American female astronaut, and the first African-American woman to enter space (September 1992)Compared to: MC Sha Rock. The first female MC. Sha Rock was not afraid to battle anyone, and is often referred to as the Mother of Hip-Hop.Dr. LaSalle D. LefallLife: 1930-Medical School: Howard University College of MedicineContribution: Dr. Lefall, a surgical oncologist, is the first African-American president of the American Cancer Society.Compared to: Coke La Rock. Considered the first true MC ever in the history of Hip-Hop. He would lay down rhymes over the music of DJ Kool Herc at the legendary Cedar Park in New York.Dr. Jocelyn EldersLife: 1933-Medical School: University of Arkansas Medical SchoolContribution: Dr. Elders is the first African-American to be appointed as U.S. Surgeon GeneralCompared to: MC Lyte. The first rapper to ever to perform at Carnegie Hall, and the first female rapper to ever receive a gold single.Dr. Benjamin CarsonLife: 1951-Medical School: University of MichiganContribution: In 1987, this pediatric neurosurgeon made medical history with an operation that separated Siamese twins from the back of their heads. He had to orchestrate a 70-man team that worked for 22 hours to successfully separate the twins who survived the surgery and did well. Check out his two books Think Big and Gifted Hands.Compared to: Grandmaster Flash. Surgical on the 1’s and 2’s, he created the vocabulary for the turntables that DJ’s continue to use today. He is the innovator of back spinning, phasing, and cutting - terms only a DJ would understand. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.Dr. Benjamin Carson and Tha Hip Hop Doc