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Editorial
August 2002

African Americans in OphthalmologyProgress and Challenges

Arch Ophthalmol. 2002;120(8):1085-1086. doi:10.1001/archopht.120.8.1085

AT THE BEGINNING of the 20th century, the philosopher George Santayana remarked that the future can be predicted by exploring the past: technology changes rapidly, but human nature remains the same. Many of the conflicts of our past are still alive in the present. It is up to us to learn from the previous experiences of great men and historical events. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.1 In this editorial, we provide a sketch of the history of African Americans in ophthalmology; it is a history that is all too often forgotten or pushed aside and has essentially never been told. We begin with the profiles of 2 African American ophthalmologists because they typify some of the struggles that black Americans have encountered in becoming ophthalmologists.2 These biographical sketches stress the importance of cultural sensitivity and the need to develop skills in cultural competency. We then present information on the growth in numbers of African American ophthalmologists. Finally, we identify some of the accomplishments of African Americans over time.

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