Charles Richard Drew

Illustration of Drew by Charles Alston in the collection of the National Archives

Charles Richard Drew (3 June 1904 – 1 April 1950) was an American physician, surgeon and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces.

The research and development aspect of his blood storage work is disputed. As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, an action which cost him his job. In 1943, Drew’s distinction in his profession was recognized when he became the first black surgeon selected to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.

Drew’s athletic achievements helped win him a scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts and he graduated in 1926. An outstanding athlete at Amherst, Drew also joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Continue reading

J Rosamond Johnson

J Rosamond Jonhson

John Rosamond Johnson, born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1874, was the youngest of the three Johnson children. Although his first name was John, he was called Rosamond by his family and friends. Professionally, he referred to himself as J. Rosamond Johnson.

Rosamond’s special talent was music. He began piano lessons with his mother when he was 4 years old. After graduating from the Stanton Public school in 1891, he went to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he studied piano, organ, composition, and voice. He also studied music in London. Continue reading

Lloyd Augustus Hall

Lloyd August Hall

Lloyd August Hall

Born: June 20, 1894
Died: January 2, 1971
Birthplace: Elgin, Illinois
Occupation: Chemist and Inventor

Lloyd August Hall received his Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University in 1914, a Master of Science from Northwestern in 1916, and a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from Virginia State College in 1944. Dr. Hall has served as junior and senior Sanitary Chemist of the Department of Health laboratories for the city of Chicago, Illinois from 1915 to 1919. He also served as chief chemist for John Morrel and Company of Ottuma, Illinois (1919-1921). He was President of the Chemical Products Corporation, Chicago from 1921 to 1924. Dr. Hall served as Consultant for Griffith’s Laboratories from 1925 to 1929, later as Technical Director and Chief Chemist of Griffith’s Laboratories in Chicago, Illinois from 1929 to 1946. From 1946 to 1959 Lloyd hall served as Technical Director.  Continue reading

Matthew Ashby

cwlogowtext1727 – 1771. Ashby was the son of a black man and Mary Ashby, a white woman who was an indentured servant. He was born free because in Colonial times a child inherited his or her mother’s social status. But under Virginia law, he was also indentured until age 31 and was prohibited from meeting with slaves. Ashby worked as a messenger for Virginia governor Norborne Berkeley and as a carpenter. He acquired material goods, such as a silver watch, books, and candle-making equipment, that seemed out of reach of most black colonists.

He married Ann Ashby, a slave of a bricklayer, and purchased her and their two enslaved children, John and Mary, in 1769 for 150 pounds. Although he owned them, Ashby had to petition the government to win their freedom. John and Mary attended Williamsburg’s Bray School.

Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason

Bridget 'Biddy' MasonBridget 'Biddy' Mason

Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason

1818-1891 - Born into slavery, Biddy Mason traveled from Mississippi to southern California with plantation owners Robert and Rebecca Smith and their family and slaves. But before the Smiths could whisk the group away to the slave state of Utah to retain ownership of their slaves, Mason enlisted the aid of two black Los Angeles businessmen and gained freedom for herself and her family.

Finally able to choose her own path in life, Mason earned a good income as a nurse-midwife for both newly arrived immigrants and wealthy clients and subsequently gained respect in the community. Through donations, she supported charities that helped the needy of Los Angeles and that helped build the first African Methodist Episcopal church in California. In 1989 a memorial depicting Mason’s achievements was erected in Los Angeles.

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  • Granville T. Woods
  • Richard Robert Wright, Sr.
  • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
  • Edith Sampson
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