February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions that black people have contributed to our society, even in the face of barriers and stereotypes.

At Angels on Call, we want to take this month to celebrate, recognize, and reflect on the way that black caregivers have helped shape the caregiving industry (as well as medicine in general) into what it is today.

To that end, we’ve put together a list of black caregivers and medical professionals who we honor for making major contributions to both professions.

Black Caregivers Who Contributed Majorly to the Caregiving Profession

Charles Richard Drew

Tens of millions of people have their lives changed for the better every year thanks to blood transfusions.

We have Charles Richard Drew to thank for that.

Drew — known as the Father of Blood Banking — was born in 1904 in Washington, D.C. He was a top student and an excellent athlete, attending Amherst College on an athletic scholarship. Later, he obtained a medical degree first and then a Doctor of Science — being the first African American to earn the latter. 

His doctoral thesis was on “Banked Blood”, which is largely responsible for modern blood banks. He also started bloodmobiles to improve mobility in blood donation and transportation.

Along with all of that, Drew protested against racial segregation in blood donation, playing an early part in ending racial discrimination.

Daniel Hale Williams

After graduating from what is now Northwestern University, Daniel Hale Williams started his career by opening a private medical practice that treated white and black patients.

Dismayed that, at the time, black doctors were not allowed to work in private hospitals, Williams opened the first integrated hospital, called Provident Hospital. It allowed whites and blacks to work there, but it mainly helped black medical interns gain access to more opportunities.

He also established the first school for black nurses there.

Williams is also known for performing the first documented, successful pericardium surgery on a patient who had been the victim of a stabbing.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was an early trailblazer for black women who wanted to pursue careers in medicine. Born in 1831 in Delaware and raised in Pennsylvania, she was inspired to pursue medicine by her aunt, who served as the doctor in her community.

After working as a nurse, in Massachusetts, Crumpler attended New England Female Medical College — the first black woman to graduate from the institution, and the first black woman in the US to earn an MD when she graduated in 1864.

Crumpler was also one of the first female physician authors in the 19th century, publishing A Book of Medical Discourses — a book discussing addressing children’s and women’s health issues — in 1883.

This Black History Month, we honor these and other care professionals who did so much for our industry and humanity at large. We hope you learned some interesting facts about black caregivers and medical professionals.