Wasserman Schultz on Black History Month

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Washington, February 1, 2022 | comments
African Americans, to this day, stand longer in waiting rooms, too often receive substandard care or face shorter, less-healthy lives in this nation. We must own up to this grim reality, redouble our efforts to quickly remedy it, and champion all those who sacrificed so much to reverse or overcome it, such as Dr. James Sistrunk of Broward County.
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“This year’s national Black History Month theme, ‘Black Health and Wellness,’ give us the chance to celebrate the legacies and achievements of Black medical, science and health professionals, and the generations of unsung health pioneers such as Black midwives and community caregivers. As we do, we must also recognize and examine how African Americans have been disproportionately affected by health disparities and how our health systems still underserve their needs.

African Americans, to this day, stand longer in waiting rooms, too often receive substandard care or face shorter, less-healthy lives in this nation. We must own up to this grim reality, redouble our efforts to quickly remedy it, and champion all those who sacrificed so much to reverse or overcome it. Denial to top medical colleges and ‘whites only’ hospitals is all that too many generations of Black Americans knew. Yet groundbreakers like Rebecca Lee Crumpler, James McCune Smith and Jane Cooke Wright paved a way for future African American doctors and medical pioneers like  Broward’s own Dr. James Sistrunk.

As Broward County’s first black doctor, Dr. Sistrunk was a qualified surgeon who made house calls to the poor and delivered thousands of babies, yet was barred from practicing in ‘white’ hospitals due to institutionalized racism. His legacy lives on not only with the countless families he saved, served and allowed to flourish, but his name lives on throughout our community, on Sistrunk Boulevard, the J. F. Sistrunk Bridge and the Sistrunk Festival in Fort Lauderdale.  

Sadly, the cruel racial health disparities he worked so tirelessly to erase are still with us and the COVID pandemic only amplified them. During Black History Month, let all Americans pledge to end this racist legacy, and pay real tribute to the pioneers who trampled all the barriers to ensure that proper health and wellness extends to all Americans.”

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