What do you know about Black History?

It’s the day after the Family Day long weekend (which I spent for the most part alone), and I read all these titles on medium. One about a bar who shows someone who they could’vebeen. Another asking the question “If I wasn’t fat, who would I be”?

The answer is obvious, you’d be you, just not fat.

I kind of wish my feed had more stories about black history. After all, it is Black History Month, and for heavens sake; we denoted the shortest month to this cause? Maybe I’m being nit-picky, but there isn’t a lot of other history that is coloured as well. I am not a huge history buff, but there are a lot of stories that have been lost, or simply ignotred.

Of course, I read Frederick Douglass’ Narratives of the Life of — written by himself in University. Although I was reading it for grades, not for actual comprehension. Frederick Douglas is one of slavery’s most notorious leaders of the black people. Douglass had taught himself to read and write, became involved in politics and eventual was recognized as Abraham Lincoln’s friends.

Not bad for once an illiterate slave.

Most people know about the Harriet Tubman’s, the Rosa Parks (who was much later in black history) but what about this guy; Vivien Thomas. Vivien Thomas was a forced to put his education on hold because of the stock market crash in the 1930, and found work as a surgical lab assistant at the Vanderbilt University to Doctor Alfred Blalock. Before I go on, I want to say a few things.

Originally, I had seen this story on Kevin Hart’s Black History special on Netflix, he has some other important historical black figures like Mae Carol Jemison. But his portrayal of Thomas and Blalock is quite different than the articles I have read online. Hart tells the story of Thomas as if he was quite oppressed by Blalock, however when I read articles online, it would seem as if Blalock helped Thomas a great deal. Could more have been done, of course.

So Thomas, started assisting Blalock with his surgeries (on animals of course) on his first dayof work as a lab technician. By the the mid 1930’s, Thomas was doing the work of a Postdocoral Researcher in the lab. Even though he was classified and paid, as a janitor.

The history behind Thomas is a bit confusing at first, I mean what it is to me is Thomas had a much different life. He was thrown off course by the Great Depression of the 1930’s and despite having made tremendous strides in medicine, was only classified and paid as a janitor/lab technician? Kevin Hart tells his daughter in his Netflix special not to get worked up over this, because Thomas ended up saving the lives of thousands of children.


What Kevin failed to recognize that Thomas wasn’t included in the medical articles, team photos, Blalock didnt have much tolerance when it came to equal pay, his social status outside of work and the importance of his work on fixing “Blue Baby syndrome”. I suppose racial oppression was the “in” thing. Vivien Thomas has contributed a great deal to the medical field, and a proper write up of his life and history is definitely worth a read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s