1. Daniel Hale WilliamsDaniel Hale Williams was an African American general surgeon who was one of the first physicians in the U.S. to perform open-heart surgery. According to a Wikipedia article about Hale, he performed a successful pericardium surgical procedure in 1893 to repair a left fifth costal cartilage wound on a patient. Without modern day penicillin and blood transfusions, the success of the 1893 procedure marked Williams as the second physician in the U.S. to complete the procedure.
Williams is also credited with being the founder of the nation’s first non-segregated hospital, Chicago’s Provident Hospital.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Williams became an apprentice for a physician after moving to Janesville, Wis., to run a barber shop with one of his five sisters. Williams was enthralled with the work of Dr. Henry W. Palmer and continued to follow him for two years until he attended Chicago Medical College (now Northwestern University Medical School) in 1880. After graduating in 1883, Williams opened his own medical office in Chicago.