Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad, future generations lose momentum…
24 years is a short life but Ms. Alice Ball made the most of them becoming the 1st Black person and woman to receive a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Hawaii and the 1st Black person and woman to become a Chemistry professor at Hawaii. Yet, Ms. Ball’s greatest accomplishmemt was hidden from the world for over 80 years. Ms. Ball developed an injection method that leprosy patients could take to help their healing process. The method was so successful people began calling it the “Ball method.” At that time if someone was diagnosed with leprosy, they were arrested, taken from their homes and sent to Hawaii to live at an institution. The Ball method allowed patients to administer treatment from home and until the 1940s Alice Ball’s invention helped over 8000 leprosy patients. Yet Ms. Ball did not live to see the fruit of her labor. While still writing her research paper on her methodology, she became sick and died. The chemist that she worked for stole her research and renamed it after himself calling it the “Dean” method. Mr. Dean also happened to be the president of the Univ. Of Hawaii. It wasn’t until a doctor at the leprosy hospital called him out that people began to trace back the injections to Alice Ball. Ball, who died in 1916 at the age of 24 was finally recognized by the University of Hawaii for her ground-breaking work 84 years after her death in 2000. Ms. Ball who was born around the same time as Marie Curie and Albert Einstein had the potential to be one of the greatest scientists the world had ever known had she not died so early in life. We salute Alice Ball and all the many Black men and women who had their stories and ideas stolen, copied, misrepresented, and replaced. Alice Ball died with little recognition, but we say her name today so future generations will never forget the foundation that people like her has provided for them.