School of Medicine Celebrates Juneteenth

Duke University School of Medicine’s Black employee resource group, called ME2, held its third annual Juneteenth celebration on June 20. The event featured keynote speaker Damon Tweedy, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke.

In his talk, titled “Reflections on Race and Medicine: Past, Present, and Future,” Tweedy examined the history of racism in medicine and science in the U.S., while weaving in stories from his own personal and professional life.

He emphasized that while there have been many magnificent medical discoveries worth celebrating over the years, it is important to recognize harmful acts that have occurred in medicine throughout history, particularly during the Jim Crow era.

Members of the ME2 Leadership with Keynote speaker Dr. Damon Tweedy and Dr. Kevin Thomas
ME² leadership team Corey Bailey, Annise Weaver, Beky Branagan, Antonio Jones, Rasheedah Clay and Pamela Keels. Keynote speaker Dr. Damon Tweedy, MD with Dr. Kevin Thomas, Vice Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Among the incidents that Tweedy highlighted was the local story of Maltheus Avery, a 24-year-old Army veteran and North Carolina A&T student who was severely injured in a car wreck near Mebane in 1950. He was taken to Duke Hospital but was refused admission because there were no beds available in the hospital’s ward for Black patients. Avery was transferred to Lincoln Hospital, the local hospital for Black patients, where he died shortly after arrival.

Tweedy said Juneteenth is a time to celebrate those who brought such mistreatments to light. He asked the audience to think about how these stories, which were once hidden or remained unacknowledged for years, shape how we think about medicine and race today. He also challenged the audience to consider the contributions they could make in their own careers to help the country move forward and leave the world better than they found it.

Attendees received copies of Tweedy’s recent book, “Facing the Unseen: The Struggle to Center Mental Health in Medicine.”

ME2, which stands for Motivate, Mentor, Educate, & Empower, aims to empower Black staff members in the School of Medicine, offering networking, professional development, and leadership opportunities.

Pamela gorham and pamela keels. Dr. Tweedy signing books.
From Left: Pamela Keels, MBA, right, jokes with Pamela Gorham, left, during the ME² Third Annual Juneteenth Celebration. Dr. Tweedy signs copies of his book for attendees.