Black History Month
February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. The Black History Month Planning Committee is planning engaging and entertaining events to educate and celebrate with the ECC community.
Dr. Hannah Obasi, M.D.
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, LAC+USC Medical Center
Dr. Hannah Obasi was the 2015 winner of the Sinkler Miller Medical Association (SMMA) Scholarship recipient. She is a native of Richmond, California. She attended Middle College High School which is designed as an alternative educational program that allows for exposure to college while in high school. The school is located on the Contra Costa Community College campus. It is a public school, but highly competitive and primarily for students of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. She attended high school with her twin sister and an older sister. Friends referred to them as the “triplets”. She looked back at her high school experience as a great opportunity. Students took 1-2 college courses in addition to high school courses, and received college credit. Upon graduation, the students had enough credits to get their AA degree.
When asked, what inspired you to choose a career in medicine? She replied that since high school she has been interested in global poverty. Since both of her parents are from Nigeria, she is aware of the privileges that she had growing up in the US in contrast to life in Nigeria. Through community service activities with her church, she developed a desire to give back to her community. Science came easily to her, and medicine seemed a natural medium to further her interests in global health, poverty and community service. When asked about life as a medical student, she replied that she asked many questions – such as what does global heath look like in medicine? Being a medical student in San Francisco, she became more aware of the issues of race and its impact on health care. Dr. Obasi was inspired by the Black Lives Matter activisms inspired her. She joined other first and second year medical students to create and organize “White Coats for Black Lives” and the nationwide “White Coat Die-In” demonstrations of 2014. Dr. Obasi felt that it was important to acknowledge that racial bias affects both the justice system and the medical field. She was passionate about the importance of Black medical students taking a stand, and appreciated the SMMA scholarship as it validated the necessity for social responsibility that she and all the other scholarship recipients were participating in.
Dr. Obasi graduated from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine in 2018. She works in Los Angeles, CA and specializes in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.
February 25, 2021 | 1:00-2:00P.M.
All El Camino College students, employees, and community members are welcome to join us via Zoom as we celebrate and learn about Black Excellence in the medical field from Dr. Hannah Obasi.
Dr. Obasi will share her journey as a physician and provide a glimpse into working as a physician in the middle of a global pandemic.
ECC will be hosting events throughout Black History Month. Confirmed events have been posted below:
Black History Month Libguide
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 9:30-10:30A.M.
Please consider attending the Schauerman Library Reference Services Visual Series "Black and African American Heritage: A Visual Experience" presentation. Presenters Linda Cooks and Aisha Conner-Gaten, Part Time Faculty Librarians will showcase the Black and African American Heritage: A Visual Experience digital guide. Robert Williams, Faculty Counselor will provide opening and closing remarks and moderate the Q&A. Students are encouraged to attend! Faculty can sign up for flex credit via Cornerstone. All employees of El Camino College are welcome to attend.
The libguide is live and available to view. It will be available to view all year long.
Any problems with accessing presentation please contact Analu Kameeiamoku Josephides, Reference Services Librarian at email@example.com for assistance.
Weekly emails are being sent to all ECC students and employees highlighting African American pioneers who have made significant contributions to medicine and healthcare. The short biographies for these innovative individuals can be found below:
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams
Daniel Hale Williams graduated from Northwesterrn University Medical School, Chicago Illinois in 1883. He pursued a pioneering career in medicine, setting up his own practice in Chicago’s South Side and taught anatomy at his alma mater. Black doctors, however, were not allowed to work in America's private hospitals. As a result, in 1891, Williams founded the Provident Hospital, which also provided a training residency for doctors and training school for nurses in Chicago. This was established mostly for the benefit of African-American residents, to increase their accessibility to health care, but its staff and patients were integrated from the start.
On July 10, 1893, Williams repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish. Cornish, who was stabbed directly through the left fifth costal cartilage had been admitted the previous night. Williams decided to operate the next morning in response to continued bleeding, cough and "pronounced" symptoms of shock. He performed this surgery, without the benefit of penicillin or blood transfusion, at Provident Hospital, Chicago. It was not reported until 1897. However, DR. DANIEL HALE WILLIAMS WAS THE FIRST TO PERFORM A SUCCESSFUL OPEN HEART SURGERY.
In 1893, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland, Williams was appointed surgeon-in-chief of Freedman’s Hospital in Washington D.C., a post he held until 1898. That year he married Alice Johnson, who was born in the city and graduated from Howard University, and moved back to Chicago. In 1897, he was appointed to the Illinois Depart-ment of Public Health, , where he worked to raise medical and hospital standards. Williams was a Professor of Clinical Surgery at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, and was an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He worked to create more hospi-tals that admitted African Americans, and in 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for African-American doctors. He died in relative obscurity.
Bridget "Biddy" Mason
From Enslaved to Entrepreneur
Born enslaved in Georgia, Bridget "Biddy" Mason walked more than 2,000 miles through rugged terrain to California. Mason was forced to travel West with Robert and Rebecca Smith, slaveholders who had joined the Mormon migration to Utah. The Smiths eventually took Mason and her three children to San Bernardino, California. While California was supposedly a "free state," Smith continued to hold them captive. Mason and her children befriended free blacks who alerted the local sheriff when the Smiths made plans to take Biddy and her daughters to Texas with them. The sheriff took Mason and her family into protective custody. Judge Benjamin Hayes circumvented racist testimony laws that prevented blacks from testifying against whites by interviewing Mason in his chambers. There, she said that she did not want to go back to the South with the Smiths. As a result, in 1856, Hayes ruled that Mason and her children were "free forever."
Biddy Mason's emancipation led her to establish herself in Los Angeles where she worked as a midwife and nurse for Dr. John Strother Griffin. Making $2.50 per day, she would eventually deliver hundreds of babies in Los Angeles and tend to the wounds and illnesses of people who came to her for help. She was also noted for using her knowledge of herbal remedies to care for those affected by the smallpox epidemic in Los Angeles. She became a Spanish speaker, fostering her friendship with former Governor Pio Pico. Pico encouraged her to invest her money wisely and purchase property. In 1866, Biddy Mason purchased her first piece of property for $250 on Spring Street between Third and Fourth Street. She purchased a number of other properties around the downtown area as weII, but was known for her civic investment and overall generosity. She allowed her home to be the first meeting place of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles. She later donated the land upon which the first church was built. When Mason passed away in 1891, she was as one of Los Angeles' great philanthropists and left her heirs a fortune estimated at $3 million.
Dr. Keith L. Black, M.D.
Keith Black was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. Shortly thereafter his family moved to
Auburn, Alabama, where his mother, Lillian, was a school teacher, and his father,
Robert, was the principal of Boykin Street Elementary School. Though the Supreme Court
had declared school segregation unconstitutional years before Keith Black was born,
the state government of Alabama continued to mandate separate schools for black and
white children. Robert did his best to circumvent the enforced segregation by employing
an integrated faculty in his school, and encouraged his sons to swim in the “whites
only” swimming pool. From an early age, Keith Black was fascinated by biology, and
taught himself to dissect frogs. Encouraging his son’s interest, Robert bought a cow’s
heart for his son to dissect.
After high school, Black enrolled at the University of Michigan, and after only two years of undergraduate study, he was accepted into medical school in 1978. Black earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1981, where he had begun his intense research into the brain and the nature of human consciousness. This search led him down a spiritual path, where he began to study the religions of the world, and ultimately led him to working to cure brain tumors.
By 1987, Black was the head of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program at the UCLA Medical Center, where he remained for the next ten years. In 1997, he became the director of the division of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he remains today, and in 1998, he became the chairman of the department of neurological surgery as well as a professor at the University of California, Irvine. Over the years, his work has found him publishing hundreds of papers over the years, and he discovered a natural body peptide that helps deliver drugs to the brain to fight tumors.
Esquire Magazine named him one of the “21 Most Important People of the 21st Century,” and in 2001, he was presented with an Essence Award. Black is also a devoted family man, despite performing 250 to 300 operations a year (the national average for brain surgeons is around 100). He reserves his weekends for spending time with his wife, fellow doctor Carol Bennett, and their children, Keith and Teal.
UCLA Health Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Health Syposium:
Confidence in Crisis: Strengthening Medical Trust within the Black Community During the Pandemic
UCLA Health hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Health Symposium on January 14, 2021. The recording, presenter information, and additional UCLA Health resources can be found below:
UCLA Health Resources
Moderator and Presenter Information
- Dr. Mendell Briggs Malonson
- Dr. Vickie Mays, BRITE Center
- Dr. Nina Harawa, Center for HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Services
- Dr. Omai Garner
- Dr. Keith Norris
- Aziza Lucas Wright, M.Ed.
Check out these e-books you can read right now on your screen, hosted by your ECC
Library! Read about African American politics, history, arts, and culture as well
as Black LGBTQ+ stories and much more.
Read to celebrate Black History Month!
Please direct any inquiries regarding Black History Month to Chris Dela Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 3500.