Celebrating Diversity: Black History Month
Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. Born to parents who were former slaves, he spent the majority of his childhood working in the Kentucky coalmines. At the age of twenty, he enrolled in high school and graduated within two years. Years later, he went on to earn his doctorate in history from Harvard University. Dr. Woodson was disappointed that throughout his studies, history books largely ignored the contributions of the black American population-and when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.
To remedy this, he decided to take on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation’s history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.
Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. It later became a month-long celebration in 1976.
Honoring the Stories of African Americans in Veterinary Medicine
African-Americans have played an important role in the veterinary profession. As a college, we wanted to create a space to honor a few of these great stories. Each week throughout the month of February, we will showcase several African Americans within the profession that have been advocate for inclusion and positive change.
Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson (1901-1988):
Founder of Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine
Named after the famed journalist and anti-slavery leader, Dr. Patterson was born in 1901 and was raised by his older sister after being orphaned at age two. Overcoming hardship, he went on to attend Iowa State College, where in 1923 he earned his DVM. His academic career also included earning a Master of Science from Iowa State and a second doctorate degree from Cornell University. Dr. Patterson began teaching at Tuskegee University in 1928 and in 1944 he founded the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine, which to this day has graduated an estimated 75% of African American veterinarians. Among his many accomplishments was the founding of the United Negro College Fund, which today remains a major financial supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In 1987, Dr. Patterson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan. Dr. Patterson has an extensive list of accomplishments in his life; please click the link below to learn more about this pioneer in veterinary medicine.
(Special thanks to Jess Martini for crafting the profile)
Dr. Earl H. Rippie, Jr. (1941-2016)
Dr. Earl H. Rippie, Jr. graduated from Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine in 1967. Dr. Rippie built a successful 45 year career as veterinarian, owner, and director of the Pennsauken Animal Hospital in New Jersey. During his career as a veterinarian, Dr. Rippie served as President of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association and served 9 years as a delegate for the AVMA. In 1999, Dr. Rippie was elected president of the North American Veterinary Association where he went on to serve as secretary-treasurer for 13 years. Among his many accomplishments and contributions to veterinary medicine, he was a founding member of the Latin American Veterinary Association. Dr. Rippie was posthumously honored for his contribution to veterinary medicine at the opening ceremony of this year’s NAVC Conference.
(Special thanks to Shonte Bishop for recommending Dr. Rippie and to Jess Martini for crafting the profile)
*PLEASE RETURN EACH WEEK THROUGHOUT FEBRUARY FOR MORE PROFILES HONORING THE STORIES OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN VETERINARY MEDICINE*