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Dr. Uché Blackstock, Humanist of the Year 2021

On November 17, 2021, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard & MIT honored Dr. Uché Blackstock as our "Harvard Humanist of the Year." Dr. Uché Blackstock is a thought leader and sought-after speaker on bias and racism in health care, founder of Advancing Health Equity, and a medical contributor to MSNBC. The award ceremony and conversation with Dr. Blackstock was recorded. Watch the video here.

A pioneering non-profit organization founded nearly fifty years ago as the first humanist chaplaincy in North America, or at any university in the world, The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard & MIT works with atheists, agnostics, and allies at Harvard, MIT, and beyond to create an inclusive new model for how humanists celebrate life, promote reason and compassion, and better the world for all. Our Harvard Humanist of the Year award has been presented, for decades, to a member of the secular/nonreligious community whose life and achievements exemplify humanist values such as critical thinking, compassion for our fellow human beings, and the pursuit of justice. The award ceremony was moderated by our chaplain Greg M. Epstein, the longtime humanist chaplain at Harvard and MIT, who also served as the president of Harvard University's 40+ chaplains for 2021-22. The event was co-sponsored by Harvard University's Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging; and by, endeavoring to become the premiere online repository of black culture both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Blackstock, who earned her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University, founded Advancing Health Equity in 2019 to partner with healthcare and related organizations to confront racism in healthcare and to eradicate racial health inequities.

In 2019, Dr. Blackstock was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “10 Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazers You Need to Get Familiar With”.

In 2020, she was one of thirty-one inaugural leaders awarded an unrestricted grant for her advocacy work from the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund.

Dr. Blackstock’s writing has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Scientific American, the Washington Post and STAT News for the Boston Globe. Since June 2020, she has been a Yahoo News Medical Contributor and appears regularly on cable and broadcast news programming to discuss the Coronavirus pandemic and to amplify the message around racial health inequities. In April 2021, Dr. Blackstock became an MSNBC medical contributor.

She is a former Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the former Faculty Director for Recruitment, Retention and Inclusion in the Office of Diversity Affairs at NYU School of Medicine. She left her position at NYU School of Medicine in December 2019 after almost 10 years on faculty to focus her time and efforts on Advancing Health Equity.

As a child, Dr. Blackstock watched her mother, Dr. Dale Blackstock, a Black woman in medicine, navigate the world with the odds stacked squarely against her.

Raised by a single mother with six children, on public assistance, her mother was the first person in her family to attend college. She died of acute myelogenous leukemia at only 47 years old. Dr. Blackstock’s mother’s legacy inspires her to work to advance health equity for Black Americans and to address the detrimental effects of systemic racism on health outcomes.

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