As a medical student, getting your white coat is a pretty big deal. But now, a group of Black medical students have taken it further by showcasing their achievement was brought about by our ancestors. Now that photo has gone viral.
Altogether, there were 16 members of Tulane University’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) who made a 50-mile trek from New Orleans to a plantation to make the now-viral image possible. As of Thursday, a single tweet of the photo had been liked more than 75,000 times and retweeted more than 17,000 times.
The students planned the photo to inspire other young black people to honor where they come from.
Slave quarters like the Whitney Plantation once was a symbol of struggle, strife and death. But now, because of ancestors looked forward to where they could be, Sydney Labat and others are now standing tall as a symbol of life and success.
“We are truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams. ? As physicians in training, we stood on the steps of what was once slave quarters for our ancestors. This was such a powerful experience, and it honestly brought me to tears. For Black people [pursuing] a career in medicine, keep going. For our entire community, keep striving. Resilience is in our DNA,” Sydney Labat, a med student at the Tennessee University, wrote in a caption on Instagram over the weekend.
Labat and 14 of her classmates planned a trip to Wallace to take a series of photos at the plantation last week.“Seeing that many black students in training in one photo was striking. In a place that was dedicated to our ancestors and their struggles,” Labat, 24, said. “We knew this photo was going to make people stop … and really think. I can say for myself, I definitely got emotional throughout this experience.”
Russell Ledet, a second-year medical student who helped plan the photo, first visited the site with his daughter during the summer, he said. “I came back and talked about it with Sydney and the classmates. I said, ‘We should… go in all black and our white coats.’ Everybody was on board,” Ledet said.
Ladet told People Magazine that his daughters comments from the plantation visit is what really sparked the idea. She saw the breath and depth of our rich history and said something profound.
“My 8-year-old daughter was like, ‘Dad, it means a lot to be a black doctor in America. If you think about where we started… we made it pretty far,’” he explains. “I was like ‘You’re right, I think more of us should see this.’”
Thank you Ladet. We stand on the shoulders of many who came before us. Continue to build further, higher and longer.