It’s black history month, and recently in a Christian book store, I saw a DVD about one of the most inspiring African American men living today. I had read about this extraordinary man over the years and saw him on television before.
Every time I recall the story of his life, I want to tell everyone I encounter the details, so they can be as amazed as I’ve been.
Ben Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1951. His parents divorced, and his mother was left to raise Ben and his brother alone. Even though she had only a third grade education and could barely read, this persevering mom had her sons read two books a week and write book reports on them.
Ben overcame poverty, early struggles in school, and a bent toward violence to graduate from high school with honors. He attended Yale University and then University of Michigan medical school. At age 32 he became the youngest director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where he continues to work today.
While Dr. Carson was involved in other innovative surgeries, he’s best known for being the first surgeon in the world to successfully separate twins conjoined at the back of the head.
Dr. Carson has received numerous honors and awards, including over 61 honorary doctorate degrees and the Presidential Medal of Freedom award.
What amazes me when I see this man on television or read what he’s written is his humility and grace. Early in his career he encountered racism but dealt with it graciously. In an interview when asked how he kept racism from getting in his way he said,
“I came to an understanding early on that if I encountered a racist person, they were the one with the problem, not me. I have always lived my life that way and taught my kids to live their lives that way. It’s just really not a big problem.”
In his book Gifted Hands he wrote, “I honestly felt no great pressures. When I did encounter prejudice, I could hear Mother’s voice in the back of my head saying things like, ‘Some people are ignorant and you have to educate them.’”
A Bible verse Dr. Carson points out in his book Think Big is,
“A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23 RSV)
This surgeon does not give himself credit for his amazing surgical skills but states, “God gives each of us abilities that we cannot supply to ourselves or explain our worthiness of, THEN WE ARE HUMBLED. (page 242 Think Big)
My most recent reflection on Dr. Carson has exposed some lingering racist attitudes which were first planted in my upbringing.
The young black men I taught in Sunday School at a local church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in recent years came to mind. They were from similar backgrounds as Dr. Carson, but I admit I had a hard time imagining any of them doing great things with their lives.
Ben Carson’s mom was a woman who looked beyond all obstacles. I pray for that kind of faith.
Today I’m thanking God for the inspiration of Dr. Ben Carson and his mother. And I thank Him for how far He’s brought me in overcoming many different kinds of prejudices in my life.
I bought the Ben Carson DVD “Gifted Hands,” at the book store, and I’m looking forward to watching it with my family to be further inspired.
How about you? Do you have issues with racism? Are there other prejudices the Lord is trying to get you to look at in your life? Are you willing to let him transform you in these areas? Will you allow yourself to be inspired by Dr. Ben Carson and others like him?
Digging Deeper: Below is a link to an article I wrote for CBN.com about my battle with racism.
Note: Many of the facts in this blog were obtained from Wikipedia.