Miracles of the Heart
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
      3. Benchmark MS.6 Describe <i>social class</i> and its role in a nation's history.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.12 Identify the dilemma of minority rights in a pure democracy.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Define civic virtue.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.

Participants learn about the scientific contributions of African American inventors and scientists today and in the past.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • research African Americans scientists who impacted health issues.
  • Online resources about ground-breaking African American health professionals today and in history: Patricia Bath, Alexa Canady, Vivien Thomas, Charles Drew, Percy Julian, Daniel Hale Williams, Dewey Sanderson, Otis Boykin, Michael Croslin, Patricia Harris, and Joycelyn Elders. 
Home Connection: 

Young people may ask their family about "heart disease" or other medical issues in the family. 

  • A Jubilie Project. "World Without Black People"
  • HBO Films: Something the Lord Made (2003)
  • PBS Video: Partners of the Heart (2004)
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Watch this video, "World Without Black People." Notice that nobody answers the title question because it is unthinkable, but the conversation moves to the daily encounters that show deeply ingrained racism and barriers to equity. Discuss the themes and ideas that rise to the top. 

    • What is the primary message of the film?
    • How did the film impact your feelings regarding prejudice and racism?
    • How does racism impact the medical student in the film?
  2. Define these terms:

    • segregation: the policy or practice of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnic groups, as in schools, housing, and public or commercial facilities, especially as a form of discrimination
    • blue baby: an infant baby born with cyanosis as a result of a congenital cardiac or pulmonary defect that causes inadequate oxygenation of the blood
    • philanthropy: giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good
  3. Discussion prompt: Imagine that you have a very special talent that could save the lives of many people. However, because of irrational laws and lies believed about you, you are not able to practice your talent.

    This is the challenges that many African Americans faced in the 1930s and 40s (and beyond) in the fields of medicine and health care. There are many stories of "hidden" Black scientists, health care workers, and engineers who work behind the scenes without recognition or adequate pay for their contributions.

    Introduce Vivien Thomas. He was a Black man who developed a heart surgery procedure that saved the lives of "blue babies." Because he was Black in the 1940s, he was employed as a janitor in the hospital where he assisted the white lead surgeon. Thomas was not allowed to operate on humans because he was Black, so Dr. Blalock performed the surgery under Vivien Thomas's direction. 

  4. The young people may want to read more about this story or watch one of the movies about it.

    Ask what it feels like that so much potential for African Americans and innovation for our general health was blocked because of racism. Racism and injustice are still very alive today. Recall the people in the video above saying that they know they have racist thoughts and try not to act on them. What can we each do about the prejudice we experience and feel, and how can we work toward making the inequity shrink?

    Later in his life, Vivien Thomas shared his time and talent with other African American health care workers and mentored them to excel in the field. Many Black health care workers benefited from his generosity. How does philanthropy help us work toward a better world?

  5. Young people may research other Black doctors and health care related practitioners from history and today. They can identify their contributions as well as the barriers they faced because of prejudice and racism. The youth can share their summaries in poster or social media format to tell others the stories of the rich contributions of African Americans.