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Black History Month is a time of pride and recognition for the contributions of Black people to not only the United States but also the world. While Black History Month has been officially observed in the U.S. every year since 1976, its inspiration comes from Carter G. Woodson, an American historian, who founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915.

Dr. Woodson established “Negro History Week” during the second week of February 1926 to coincide with the birthdays of two symbols of freedom, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. As described on the ASALH website, one of the goals of this celebration was to bring to light the forgotten stories of “countless black men and women who had contributed to the advance of human civilization.”

At UW Medicine, we want to thank our Black faculty, staff, trainees and students from across the system for your work and dedication to our mission. In the coming weeks, we will highlight your achievements on our internal and social media channels. In honor of Black communities around the globe, we will also fly the Pan-African Flag on our campuses.

As part of our observance of Black History Month, we encourage you to learn about Black pioneers in medicine (see resources below). One of these pioneers was Dr. Lloyd Elam, the first African-American graduate of the UW School of Medicine. During a distinguished career, he served on the faculty of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, for more than 25 years and held several leadership positions, including serving as the institution’s president.

We also want to acknowledge the centuries of struggle that Black Americans have endured. As we stated last June in response to the killings of Black citizens and the systemic racism that they continue to experience, UW Medicine is committed to addressing and eliminating all forms of racism in our clinical settings, learning environment and workplaces. We recognize that we have much work to do, and we are determined to move toward racial justice, even when it is difficult. See UW Medicine Pledges to Act Against Racism and Update on Anti-Racism Actions at UW Medicine.

One significant challenge is that there are still many barriers that keep Black men in particular from becoming doctors. UW Medicine is co-sponsoring the presentation of a documentary “Black Men in White Coats,” which will be available for viewing between Feb. 27 and March 3. A discussion with Dr. Dale Okorodudu, the executive producer of the film, will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 3. To register for the film and event, visit Black Men in White Coats.

Black History Month Resources

The UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity has compiled the following resources to deepen our knowledge of Black history and better understand the history of racism in medicine:

Thank you for celebrating Black History Month with us.


Paul G. Ramsey, MD
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington

Lisa Brandenburg
President, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Jacqueline Cabe
Chief Financial Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Timothy H. Dellit, MD
Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington
President, University of Washington Physicians

Paula L. Houston, EdD
Chief Equity Officer, UW Medicine
Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Ruth Mahan, JD
Chief Business Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Don Theophilus, JD
Chief Advancement Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Anthony Dorsch
Executive Director
UW Physicians

Jeannine Grinnell
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Valley Medical Center

Debra Gussin
Executive Director
UW Neighborhood Clinics

Cindy Hecker
Chief Executive Officer
UW Medical Center

Sommer Kleweno-Walley
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Harborview Medical Center

Jeff Richey
Executive Director
Airlift Northwest