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Vivien T. Thomas. In 1944, Hopkins' surgery chief, Alfred Blalock, successfully operated on the heart of a 9-pound child, a "blue baby." Medical experts believed cardiac surgery was impossible. As Blalock prepared to make his historic incision, he looked around the operating room and asked, "Where's Vivien?" Blalock would not begin until Thomas, stationed on a stool behind his right shoulder, was there to guide Blalock through procedures. Prejudice long kept Thomas' crucial role unacknowledged.

Born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia, on March 21, 1856, Henry Ossian Flipper was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1873. Over the next four years he overcame harassment, isolation, and insults to become West Point’s first African American graduate and the first African American commissioned officer in the regular U.S. Army.

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