NO PHOTO AVAILABLE
1. James Durham, First Black physician in the United States. He was a 14-year-old slave when the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776. Unlike other slaves, Durham, had learned to read and write. As a youngster, he was trained to mix medicines by a physician who bought him from another slave owner. At age 11, Durham was bought by yet another doctor, who taught him to serve and work with patients. When he was 21, Durham bought his freedom and began his own medical practice in New Orleans. His fluency in Spanish, French and English made him a popular doctor and soon one of the city’s most distinguished.
In 1788, he was invited to Philadelphia to meet Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of America’s foremost physicians. Dr. Rush wanted to investigate the 26-year-old’s reported success in treating patients with diphtheria. Dr. Rush was so impressed with Durham’s knowledge, that he personally read Durham’s paper on diphtheria before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
In 1789, Durham returned to New Orleans, where he saved more yellow fever victims than any other physician. During an epidemic that killed thousands, he lost 11 of 64 patients. Just three years later, the city of New Orleans limited Durham’s practice of medicine because he did not have a formal medical degree. Although Durham continued to exchange information with Dr. Rush, he disappeared after 1802 and the idea that black people were incapable of understanding medicine remained widespread for decades.
Elijah J. McCoy was born on this date in 1843. He was an African-American inventor and his work may have been the beginning of the phrase the “real McCoy.”
Born in Colchester, Canada, Elijah McCoy was one of 12 children of a family of runaway slaves who had used the Underground Railroad to escape from Kentucky. When he was 15, McCoy’s parents sent him to study mechanical engineering in Edinburgh, Scotland, because that training was impossible for Blacks to get in the United States. After finishing his schooling, McCoy returned to the United States with the hope of obtaining an engineering job. He was forced to accept a job as a locomotive fireman with the Michigan Central Railroad, a position that required that he shovel coal into the engine and apply oil in the moving parts of the machine.
McCoy found the work did not challenge him and sought other more productive forms of occupation. It had long been considered a problem that railroad engines were unable to lubricate themselves. In his free time, McCoy began to consider solutions to this problem, and after two years, he developed the “lubricating cup” for steam engines. The cup allowed for the continuous flow of oil on the gears, doing away with the necessity of shutting down the machine. McCoy received a patent for his lubricating device in 1872. The lubricating cup was essential to industries throughout the world, and those in possession of the valuable cup were said to have “the real McCoy.”
Elijah McCoy also obtained patents for an automatic sprinkler and an ironing table, eventually acquiring 58 patents in his lifetime.
3. William Seymour was born in Centerville, Louisiana. He is credited as being the inspirational force behind the birth of Pentecostalism in the United States.
NO PHOTO AVAILABLE
4. John Brooks Dendy, golfer. three-time Negro National Open champion. won the Southern Open in 1934 and 1936.
5. Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known by his ring name The Rock, is an actor, professional wrestler and philantropist currently signed to WWE, primarily featured on its Raw brand. He is often credited as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson’s first leading role as an actor was in The Scorpion King in 2002. For this film, he received the highest salary for an actor in his first starring role, earning $5.5 million. He has since appeared in several blockbuster movies such as The Rundown, Be Cool, Walking Tall, Gridiron Gang, The Game Plan, Get Smart, Race to Witch Mountain, Planet 51, Tooth Fairy, Doom, Why Did I Get Married Too?, The Other Guys, Faster and most recently Fast Five.