Statement from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on Black History Month
Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra released the following statement in honor of Black History Month:
"We know the names of Black American heroes like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Shirley Chisholm, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and many more. But there are other names not as well known, including names of Black American heroes in health care.
"Names like Dr. James McCune Smith, who was the first Black American to receive a medical degree in 1837, Dr. Charles Richard Drew, who pioneered blood preservation techniques that led to thousands of lifesaving blood donations, and Dr. Louis Wade Sullivan, the second Black secretary of HHS and the founding dean of what became the Morehouse School of Medicine.
"Names like Dr. Jane Wright, who was a pioneer researcher and surgeon known for her contributions to chemotherapy, Alexa Irene Canady, who became our country’s first Black American neurosurgeon in 1981, and Kizzmekia Corbett, one of the NIH scientists who helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine.
"There are other names too – a long list of names of Black Americans for whom this country’s promise of equality fell tragically short. Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and most recently, Tyre Nichols – Black men, women, and children who lost their lives senselessly at the hands of law enforcement authorities. HHS stands with Tyre’s family, friends, and community – and the families, friends, and communities of too many who have lost their lives to this type of violence – as we call for justice.
"At HHS, we are committed to advancing equity in health and human services, and we are proud to serve in an administration that works to ensure no one is left behind. This commitment is reflected in our work to lower healthcare costs and to improve health care access, maternal health, reproductive health, mental health, overdose prevention, family services, violence prevention, and much more.
"This Black History Month, I am reminded of my friend and colleague in Congress, John Lewis, who urged us to continue to fight for what’s right, or in his words, to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” At HHS, we take up his challenge every day and make “good trouble” in order to improve the health and wellbeing of all Americans.
"Happy Black History Month."