In support of African American history month, Starship Farragut is proud to showcase our new Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Derham. Dr. Derham is played by Rakia May of Kingsland, GA and will be seen in the upcoming episode, “Conspiracy of Innocence” this May 2014.
This new character was named in honor of James Derham (c. 1757-1802?) who was the first African American to formally practice medicine in the United States.
Born a slave in Philadelphia, his early masters taught him the fundamentals of reading and writing. Durham was owned by a number of doctors, ending up in New Orleans with a Scottish physician, who hired him in 1783 to perform medical services.
When he was 21, he bought his freedom and went to New Orleans where he set up his own medical practice. He was a popular and distinguished doctor in New Orleans, at least in part for his knowledge of English, French, and Spanish.
He was invited to Philadelphia in 1788 to meet Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and who is known to be the “Father of American medicine.” Rush was so impressed with Dunham’s success in treating diphtheria patients, that he read Durham’s paper on the subject before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
In 1789, Durham returned to New Orleans, where he saved more yellow fever victims than any other physician in colonial Philadelphia. During an epidemic that killed thousands, he lost only 11 of 64 patients. He moved back to New Orleans and was lauded by prominent local doctors. Despite his skill, his ability to save so many lives, and his flourishing practice, his practice was restricted in 1801 by new city regulations because he did not have a formal medical degree and disappeared after 1802.
Starship Farragut continues the belief depicted in Star Trek of diversity and equality for all.
Tags: Dr. Benjamin Rush