Celebrating Black History Month

By Janine Hopkins
Senior Manager of Donor Care, Vitalant-Illinios

Did you know February is “Black History Month?”  

Black History Month is a celebration that allows us to recognize the achievements and rich experiences of African Americans in this country and worldwide.   

Individually we are all proud of who we are. This includes our respective cultures, heritages, backgrounds and experiences. It is important to bring exposure and share information about Black History.
Usually we associate Black History with people and events, such as Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement and slavery. Another notable figure in Black History was also very important in the blood banking industry.
Dr. Charles Drew, an African American medical doctor and surgeon, was a pioneer in blood banking. He is credited for his groundbreaking discoveries in the storage and processing of blood plasma for patient transfusion. During World War II, Dr. Drew spearheaded the creation of a blood bank for U.S. military personnel. At the time, the military requested that blood from African Americans be segregated; Dr. Drew strongly protested the racist practice since it lacked scientific merit, resigning in protest. We recognize Dr. Drew’s contributions to building a strong foundation for today’s modern blood transfusion medicine.

The roles and the impact African Americans have made on America are not to be forgotten. Remember that Black History is American History.

In honor and support of Black History Month, everyone is encouraged to research the many people and historical events which have influences on us all. Even today in 2020, African Americans continually make contributions to this country that should make us all proud.

Here are some names and events that may be less familiar, but have great significance to our country:

Emmitt Till
Brown vs. Board of Education
Frederick Douglass
Marcus Garvey              
Black Wall Street (Tulsa, OK)
Sojourner Truth              
Underground Railroad
Madame C.J. Walker
16th Street Baptist Church
Dr. Patricia Bath
Tuskegee Airmen
George Washington Carver
Garrett Morgan

For more information about Black History Month, notable African Americans, significant dates and facts, please visit History.com and the National Park Service.