In the midst of Black History Month, it’s a good time to introduce you to three people you’ve probably never heard of.

Everyone has a legacy that everyone would be proud to own.

Each deserves our admiration.

Everyone has some sort of connection to North Carolina.

And everyone is black.

Allow me to introduce Dr. Charles Drew. He was not born in North Carolina and has never lived here. He died here, however – and the story of his death is laced with legend and error.

But first, a little background.

As World War II unfolded in 1941, doctors on both sides of the Atlantic were desperately looking for ways to conserve blood so it could be stored for transfusions. It was Dr. Drew who figured out how — creating a model for a national Red Cross blood collection program, as well as a blood plasma theory. Each has saved millions of lives.

He also led a protest against a Red Cross policy that black Americans could not donate blood, an outcry that forced the Red Cross to accept black donors but separated their blood – all on the street. insistence of the American army. Drew also protested against this policy, insisting that there was no scientific basis for separating the blood of different races.

At the time, Drew was the chief of surgery at Howard University’s Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, DC.

On April 1, 1950, Drew was driving with three other doctors to a medical conference in Alabama. He reportedly dozed off while driving on the North Carolina Hwy. 49 in Alamance County, knocked the car off the road and was seriously injured.

This is where the error comes in.

Stories go that Drew was taken to a nearby hospital, where, although he lost a lot of blood, he was turned away because it was a “whites only” hospital. By the time he arrived at the “color hospital”, he had bled to death.

Many versions of the legend have circulated over the years, and the mythical story even made it into an episode of the TV series. MASH POTATOES.

The truth was that Drew was taken to Alamance County General Hospital, where he received emergency treatment. But his injuries were too serious and he died soon after. Drew didn’t die of simple blood loss. The death certificate lists the conditions leading to his death as “brain injury, internal bleeding – damage to lungs and multiple extremities”.

Regardless of legend versus reality, Dr. Drew’s accomplishments during his short life are felt in hospitals and blood banks today.

Now allow me to introduce Toni Stone, born in West Virginia in 1921 as Marcenia Lyle Stone.

Stone became the first woman to play full-time professional baseball with the Indianapolis Clowns. She then played baseball for the San Francisco Sea Lions, New Orleans Creoles and Kansas City Monarchs before retiring in 1954.

At an early age, Stone was tagged with the nickname “Tomboy” because she enjoyed playing baseball with the boys. His mother constantly told him that playing baseball was not very feminine. The young girl was pushed into sports such as figure skating, swimming, track and field and basketball – but her interest was always baseball, so much so that she started skipping school to play this game.

The family’s Catholic priest, whom Toni’s parents went to for help, reportedly recognized Stone’s strength as a pitcher and encouraged her to try out for the Catholic Church boys’ baseball team. Claver in the Catholic Midget League, which is similar to today’s Little League. Because it was a church activity, her parents consented to her participation.

Unfortunately, the coach wasn’t interested in cultivating her skills, so Stone taught herself by reading rule books.

Still looking for instructions, Stone would show up and watch the baseball school run by St. Paul Saints manager Charles Evard “Gabby” Street, who was a Major League catcher, manager, coach and radio host. Baseball during the first half of the 20th century. He once said of Toni, “I just couldn’t get rid of her until I gave her a chance. Every time I chased her, she would turn around the corner and come back to torment me again.”

By age 16, Stone was playing weekend games with the colorful Twin City Giants – and that’s what brought Stone to North Carolina at least once.

Toni Stone died on November 2, 1996 of heart failure in a nursing home in Alameda, California. She was 75 years old.

All of her accomplishments can make her “one of the best players you’ve never heard of,” according to the Negro League Baseball Players Association.

In 1990, she was included in two Baseball Hall of Fame exhibits, one on “Women in Baseball” and another on “Negro League Baseball.” In 1993, Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1990, Stone’s hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota declared March 6 “Toni Stone Day”. Saint Paul also has a field named after Toni Stone located at the Dunning Baseball Complex.

In 2020 and 2021, the Society for American Baseball Research nominated Stone for the Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award.

And finally, allow me to introduce Hamilton Bradley, who became the first-ever Black Eagle Scout award winner in December 1919.

Bradley was apparently such a stellar scout that he was one of two Boy Scouts selected to represent his home state of New York at the Eastern States Exposition, a 1920 Boy Scout gathering in Massachusetts.

The scouts had “seven minutes to dress before the assembly, raise the flag and set up the drills”, according to Bradley’s written account, published in the “Year Book of the Rome Council”.

Bradley did not cease his involvement in Scouting after turning 18. He became assistant scoutmaster of Troop 2, which met at the Willett School in Rome.

Her marriage certificate, dated December 24, 1925, indicates that Hamilton Bradley married Aurelia P. Staples of North Carolina.

Bradley died on August 28, 1976, at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Pennsylvania, after an illness. Aurélia died in 1974.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]