365 Black History: May 1st – Gwendolyn Brooks, a Birth, Mother of the Year, First Black Governor of Virgin Islands & More


The 365 Black History serious is designed to give our community a chance to learn and appreciate the achievement, struggles and experience of our ancestors, inventors, business people, scientific, educators, children and more.

On May 1st in Black History:

  • Dr. James Durham, physician, was born in 1762.

    • On this date we remember the birth of James Durham in 1762. He was the first recognized Black physician in the United States.

      Born a slave in Philadelphia, his early masters taught him the fundamentals of reading and writing. Durham was owned by a number of doctors, ending up in New Orleans with a Scottish physician, who hired him in 1783 to perform medical services. When he was 21, he bought his freedom and went to New Orleans where he set up his own medical practice. He was a popular and distinguished doctor in New Orleans, at least in part for his knowledge of English, French, and Spanish.

      He was invited to Philadelphia in 1788 to meet Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Rush was so impressed with Dunham’s success in treating diphtheria patients, that he read Durham’s paper on the subject before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

      He disappeared after 1802. The idea that Black people were incapable of understanding medicine remained widespread for decades.

may 1st

  • 1946 – Mrs. Emma Clarissa Clement becomes the first Black woman named Mother of the Year in 1946 by the Golden Rule Foundation.

  • 1950 Gwendolyn Brooks, poet, became the first Black awarded a Pulitzer Prize (poetry)


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