Black Excellence: People of November

By Inari Gamble

What is Black Excellence, and what’s it about?

Hey, my name is Inari, and you may be wondering what Black Excellence is and why I chose this one specific topic to write about instead of something simple and trendy, like sports, updates on COVID at school, or the latest celebrity drama. Well let me just put it out there: black voices don’t get as much attention as they need, we need to do better. Now, a lot of people may be thinking something along the lines of, “Wait, didn’t we already learn about MLK, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X in school?” The answer to this is yes, we do learn about these historical figures, but each year we repeat lessons of the exact same information. Why aren’t we being taught something new about black history, instead of the same information each year during the middle of January and February? Now I’m not saying that these people aren’t important in this country’s history, I’m saying that we need to learn more about different people and their diverse experiences instead of the same three people we’ve been taught about since elementary school. This is why I chose to write about and start this column called “Black Excellence”. I want to take this chance to bring more diversity, more culture, and more black voices into the world, especially at our school. I want students to feel confident and proud to learn about our black milestone makers, not just black students but students of other races and cultures as well. I want to make a difference in this country and why not start by doing something as simple as introducing my column from my old school to this one. I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to write about in the future; I’ll be doing this every month, so if you have any people or topics you’d like for me to write about for future issues you can email me and I’ll be back with something new.

In recognition of Black voices, I want to talk about two wonderful people, one that you may have heard of while the other likely not. One of them is a man who was known as “Black Panther” and the other person was an American ophthalmologist and the first African-American woman to receive a patent for her medical invention. This month we are talking about Chadwick Boseman and Patrica Bath while wishing them a happy birthday and appreciating their wonderful contributions to the world.

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman once said, “As an African-American actor, a lot of our stories haven’t been told.” The truth in this statement is pretty clear to us as students. Try and remember the last time you were taught in class about a famous African American besides Rosa Parks, MLK, Jackie Robinson, or Malcolm X. I can’t speak for everyone but the last time I remember learning about a famous African American was probably the 6th grade, which I only learned through Black History Month and books we had to read in our free time. There are a lot of Black actors whose stories haven’t been told. That’s why I’ll be writing this column to tell the stories of Black achievers—not just actors but doctors, inventors, astronauts, musicians, and so many others, starting with Chadwick Boseman and Patricia Bath.

Chadwick Boseman, a man known for his role in the popular movie Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman was born on November 29th, 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina, and died on August 28th, 2021 in Los Angeles, California following a tragic battle with colon cancer. He graduated from T.L. Hanna Highschool before attending Howard University in Washington D.C., and graduated with a bachelor’s in Fine Arts of directing. There he gave a commencement speech with an honorary degree. He also attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. A little known fact is that one of the main reasons Chadwick Boseman did acting was to become a famous writer and director instead. The main reason he did acting for a little while was so he could understand how to relate well to actors. Thankfully, he actually got to do a little bit of directing and was an executive director for the movie called Heaven (2012). He was also the star of the movie 42 about a famous Black baseball player you may all know as Jackie Robinson. Though it was cut short, Boseman had a very successful and extraordinary career. 

Chadwick Boseman ~ Wakanda Forever

Patricia Bath

Who was Patrica Bath? Patrica Bath was an African-American ophthalmologist surgeon, an inventor, and an activist for patient rights. She is the daughter of Rupert Bath, the first Black Motorman for the NY subway system, and Gladys Bath, a homemaker and housecleaner. Bath was born on November 4th, 1942 in Harlem, NY. As a little girl, Patrica Bath loved science; She loved it so much her mother saved up money and bought her a chemistry kit. She died on May 30th, 2019 from cancer at the UCSF Medical center in San Francisco, California. Bath graduated from Howard University College of Medicine and was the first African-American woman to serve as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University. She was also the first African-American woman to hold five patents for her inventions, three of which relate to her invention the Laserphaco Probe which changed ophthalmology surgery forever. The Laserphaco Probe was a procedure that used a laser to remove cataracts, also known as a lens replacement surgery, and it is a removal of the natural lens in the eye and replacement of an intraocular lense. An intraocular lens is a tiny artificial lens for the eye. This procedure is less painful, and it’s perfect for restoring sight for patients who have been blind for decades. Bath’s work on this is truly amazing. She would also take her daughter along to missions in Nigeria and Pakistan to help diagnose, treat, and educate about preventable blindness. In 1993, she decided to retire and become a mentor for other students and young people, hoping to inspire young minds to get into science and technology and maybe even do something just as extraordinary as she did. If you want to inspire a younger family member or even a friend’s mind, check out this picture book written by Julia Finley Mosca, “The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The story of Dr. Patricia Bath”  and illustrated by Daniel Rieley.

Patricia Bath ~ A woman with an eye for science

What’s Next!

Thanks so much for reading EWHS’s very first Black Excellence column! I hope you enjoyed all the wonderful information I had to share about our Black Successors, and I hope you start to share this with others as well. Looking forward to next month’s article, one of the featured people is the daughter of a very famous boxer who continued his passion for the sport. Check back next month for more Black Excellence.

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