Celebrating Juneteenth: Honoring Black Healthcare Heroes Who Paved the Way

Summary: As we commemorate Juneteenth, Eko is proud to shine a light on the remarkable contributions of Black healthcare professionals who’ve played a pivotal role in advancing cardiac care and health equality. By celebrating and learning from their groundbreaking work, we continue to be inspired in our mission to foster a more equitable and progressive healthcare environment.

Featured: 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope

Here are just five of many inspirational figures who've paved the way for future generations of Black healthcare providers.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams: A pioneer in heart surgery and equality

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams is widely recognized as one of the first Black cardiologists in the United States. In 1893, he broke barriers by successfully performing one of the first open heart surgeries at a time when such procedures were rare. Additionally, Dr. Williams founded Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States. This hospital provided a training ground for African American doctors and nurses.1

Dr. Myra Adele Logan: A visionary surgeon breaking barriers in medicine

Dr. Myra Adele Logan made history in 1943 as the first woman to perform open heart surgery. She also made significant contributions in the field of X-ray technology, with innovations that enabled earlier detection of breast cancer. Dr. Logan advocated for equitable healthcare for African American patients, breaking barriers in gender and race within the medical community.2

Mabel Keaton Staupers, RN: A champion of diversity in nursing

Mabel Keaton Staupers' tireless efforts paved the way for greater inclusivity and diversity in American healthcare. She played a critical role in integrating the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II by lobbying military and government officials. Her determination helped to ensure that Black nurses could serve their country, breaking down racial barriers and contributing to the care of soldiers with heart and other medical conditions.3

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr: Innovator and advocate for racial equality in medicine

Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. was a cardiac surgeon who made history in 1980 by successfully conducting the world's first implantation of an automatic defibrillator in a human patient. As a tireless advocate for racial equality, he pushed for increased representation of Black students and faculty in medical schools nationwide. He was the first African American to be admitted to and graduate from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and helped co-found the Association of Black Cardiologists. His legacy continues to inspire and drive progress in the medical field.4

Dr. Michelle A. Albert: Leading the charge for health equity and heart health

Dr. Michelle A. Albert is a leading cardiologist and educator focusing on social determinants of health and cardiovascular disease. Her research examines how socioeconomic status, race, and stress affect heart health. A past President of the American Heart Association, Dr. Albert has received numerous awards, including the AHA’s Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award. Her work is shaping the future of heart health and promoting inclusive healthcare policies.5

These remarkable individuals have advanced heart health through their innovative research, clinical excellence, and unwavering advocacy for equality. Their contributions remind us of the importance of diversity in medicine and the ongoing need to address health disparities. 


1. Williamson, Laura. “The Legacy of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a Heart Surgery Pioneer.” Www.Heart.Org, The American Heart Association, 16 Feb. 2022.

2. “Myra Adele Logan, M.D. 1933 (1908-1977).” School of Medicine Alumni Profiles, New York Medical College.

3. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Mabel Keaton Staupers.” Mabel Keaton Staupers: American Nurse and Executive, Encyclopaedia Britannica.4.

4. “Levi Watkins.” Wikipedia, 22 Feb. 2024, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi_Watkins.

5. “Michelle A. Albert, MD, MPH, FACC, Faha.” Www.Heart.Org, American Heart Association.