Honoring Black History Month

February 11, 2022 Providence Health Team


In this article:

  • For Black History Month, Providence is honoring Black pioneers in the healthcare field, like Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., who performed the world’s first open-heart surgery.

  • Both our Providence Northern and Southern California Diversity & Inclusion Councils (SoCal D&I) are working to promote awareness of social issues.

  • There are many ways you can honor Black History Month, whether you want to visit a landmark in person or take a virtual tour.

Black Americans helped shape modern medicine. They broke barriers and shattered ceilings. They smashed stereotypes and fought inequality. Yet today, only 5% of U.S. doctors are Black, a percentage that hasn’t risen much since 1900, when it was 1.3%.

At Providence, we want to help change that. That’s why, this February, we’re honoring Black History Month by shining a light on pioneers in the healthcare field.

One such pioneer was Marilyn Hughes Gaston, M.D., who championed research on sickle cell disease. Her work led to the creation of a national sickle cell disease screening program for newborns.

Another was Patricia Era Bath, M.D., who noticed that Black people had higher rates of blindness than white people. Dr. Bath addressed this by creating the field of community ophthalmology. The field approaches vision care through the lens of community medicine and public health.

And don’t forget these innovators:







The importance of Black health and wellness

At Providence, we work to provide culturally competent, patient-centered care, as well as a diverse and inclusive workforce. Many of the communities we serve are melting pots of different cultures, languages and backgrounds. We strive to represent that diversity in our caregiver populations. If 13% of America’s population is Black, we believe more than 5% of the country’s doctors should be, too.

Both our Northern and Southern Providence Diversity & Inclusion Councils (SoCal D&I and NorCal D&I) are leading some of our efforts to raise cultural awareness and promote diversity to help build appreciation for cultural traditions. We are also starting conversations to help educate people about different cultures as a way to create a more welcoming, equitable and inclusive environment. We support diversity education and awareness initiatives, thus deepening our ability to provide compassionate care and honor human dignity.

Our Black Caregiver Resource Group (BCRG) is helping to drive equity by amplifying the voices of our Black caregivers. That includes empowering them throughout their careers. The group hopes to build a pipeline of Black caregivers who can lead the organization in the years to come.

The BCRG’s work aligns with this year’s Black History Month theme: the importance of Black health and wellness. The theme highlights initiatives designed to help close cultural gaps in the healthcare field. One such initiative, the McNair Scholars Program, aims to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies and increase graduate degree awards for students in underrepresented segments of society.

Ways you can honor Black History Month

If you’re looking for a way to honor Black Americans’ contributions, we have plenty of ideas for you.

For example, if you live in:

Southern California

  • Make a day trip to Bruce’s Beach at Manhattan Beach, just south of Los Angeles. Bruce’s Beach was the first West Coast beachfront resort for Black people.
  • Visit Biddy Mason Memorial Park, which tells the story of a former enslaved woman who used her freedom to better her city.
  • Take in “Rights and Rituals: The Making of African American Debutante Culture” at the California African American Museum. The exhibit is on display through Feb. 27.
  • Beginning February 23rd, you can visit SoFi Stadium to see the world-renowned Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, including artifacts and contemporary works.

Northern California


  • View “Black Lives in Alaska: Journey, Justice, Joy,” on display at the Anchorage Museum through Feb. 13.
  • Join the Alaska Black Caucus and community leaders Feb. 20 for a virtual conversation about Black history in Alaska.
  • Check out works online by Alaskan acrylic fine artist Vonnie Gaither.


New Mexico

  • Listen to a virtual conversation about diversity within the Black community by the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity & Inclusion on Feb. 24.
  • Take in the “Facing the Rising Sun” exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum. The mobile display tells the story of African American homesteading in New Mexico. It’s on view through July 10.


  • Watch a virtual film at the Cascade Festival of African Films. The festival is the longest-running annual, non-commercial African film festival in the United States. It runs through March 5.
  • Join Portland’s NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers, at its annual Celebration of Black History on Feb. 21.
  • Laugh the night away at the NW Black Comedy Festival. It’s running at Alberta Abbey and Curious Comedy Theater in Portland Feb. 17-20.



If a virtual tribute makes more sense, take an online tour of historically significant sites, such as:

Or explore Black history in America virtually through these sites:

Lighting a path

However you honor Black History Month, know there’s not just one right way. You can support a Black-owned business or read a book by a Black author. The goal is raising awareness, and righting wrongs where we see them.

At Providence, we’ll continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion in our workforce and in the services we provide. We’ll look to the past to learn from the Black trailblazers of modern medicine. And we’ll look to the future for opportunities to achieve a more fair and equitable society.


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About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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