February 4, 2022 - Message from the Superintendent: Black History Month

Dear School Community,

This year, Black History Month emphasizes a theme of health and wellness, which is especially relevant given the ongoing pandemic.  I believe the experiences of the COVID pandemic highlights the need to take an active role in maintaining and safeguarding our health. This is particularly true for Blacks, who have been historically underserved in terms of healthcare. Data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has a disproportionate impact on people of color. 

“COVID-19 data shows that Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native persons in the United States experience higher rates of COVID-19-related hospitalization and death compared with non-Hispanic White populations (CDC: Impact of Racial Inequities on Our Nation’s Health). Furthermore,  according to a 2014 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Race and ethnicity continue to influence a patient’s chances of receiving many specific health care interventions and treatments (2014, Brief)

Collectively, we must reduce these disparities to support the groundwork set by the following Black trailblazers:

  • Daniel Hale Williams: Conducted the first documented successful open-heart surgery on a human

  • Charles Drew: Discovered that blood plasma can be dried and reconstituted, making it an effective substitute for whole blood transfusions. By preserving plasma in “blood banks,” this procedure helped save the lives of countless American soldiers during World War II and in later conflicts.

  • Jane Cooke Wright: Created an innovative technique to test the effect of drugs on cancer cells by using patient tissue rather than laboratory mice. She developed a way to deliver heavy doses of anticancer medications to tumors located within the spleen, kidneys, and other hard-to-reach places. Her work positioned chemotherapy from a last-ditch effort for cancer treatment to a feasible therapy option.

  • Otis Boykin: Improved the pacemaker by developing a control unit that regulated the pacemaker with more precision to help people maintain a regular heartbeat. 

  • Patricia Bath: Invented the Laserphaco probe; a surgical tool that results in less painful and more precise treatment of cataracts. 

  • Ben Carson: Completed the first surgical separation of conjoined twins attached at the back of the head. 

Understanding the lesson of Black history alongside what the present is teaching us, should embolden our commitment to recognize and disrupt systems that perpetuate inequities that negatively impact marginalized people of color.

More so, Black History is American History and systems of racism and oppression hurt all of mankind.

Thank you,

Dr. Aubrey A. Johnson
Superintendent of Schools