For Immediate Release February 23, 2024

Dr. Paul Frazier

Dr. Paul Frazier is the vice chancellor for anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He’s also a member of the SIH Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). In celebration of Black History Month, Dr. Frazier shared his thoughts with SIH employees and the community.

Happy Black History Month. What an honor to share why I celebrate my culture and heritage beyond the allotted 28 days, or 29 during a leap year. I celebrate Black History, or African American History, because I understand how my ancestors impacted my life because of who they are and what they represent. This historical culture extends across several centuries.

I want to start by saying that I am of the belief we should never attempt to celebrate an entire culture or an entire race in a single day or in a single month...we should celebrate our cultures every day and find ways to educate others about why they make us unique.

I understand why some contributions made by African Americans go unnoticed. As a former U.S. History teacher, I was confined to what, when, where and how various historic moments or contributions were taught. I would like to reflect on a few of the contributions that warm my heart when I reflect on how African Americans grew from the mistakes of others, made our day to day lives safer and how their special talents reshaped the world and made people smile.

  • I want to acknowledge the work of Garret Morgan, inventor of the three-way traffic light that makes my drive to work safer in some capacity.
  • I want to acknowledge Marie Van Brittan Brown, inventor of the home security system which protects homes and businesses across the world.
  • I want to acknowledge George Speck, aka George Crumb, credited with developing the Saratoga Chip, or potato chip, which is a great go-to snack in case you’re hungry.
  • I want to acknowledge George Franklin Grant, a Harvard professor, dentist and inventor of the early composite wooden golf tee (although it has not improved my golf game, it has assisted several others who play.)
  • I want to acknowledge Joseph R. Winters who patented the wooden fire escape ladder in 1878.

I could name so many more who are often overlooked, not only during February but also throughout history. I encourage us all to continue to gain knowledge about Black culture and the diverse cultures and histories of other humans.