From the Desk of Diversity

Northwestern's Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter

Activating Our Inner Activist - Winter Trimester, 2017.


  • Black History Month & Chiropractic

  • Words to Live By
  • Did You Know?
  • Nominate a Dignity & Respect Champion
  • Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)
  • Links to Explore
  • Days to Remember
  • Topics in Diversity: Graduate Spotlight
  • Participate in Our Events!
  • Past Events
  • Community Engagement
  • Learning & Training Opportunities
  • Apply for a Scholarship

Black History Month & Chiropractic

Each February we take time out to recognize examples of perseverance and triumph within the black community for Black History Month. This month we recognize the pursuit of blacks to join the chiropractic profession. Yet, before we talk about those pioneers, an interesting piece of information has been misinterpreted about the beginning of the chiropractic story.

Many of the history books say that the first known adjustment by D. D. Palmer was to an African American janitor named Harvey Lillard. This account may not be completely accurate, though. According to research done by Palmer College, Mr. Lillard was an actually an entrepreneur and the owner of the janitorial service company he was representing when he met D. D. Palmer. It is an imperative task to ennoble such an important character in our collective narrative.

In an excerpt of a transcript on the A History of African-Americans in Chiropractic, Dr. Glenda Wiese (2009) states:

It is ironic that while the chiropractic profession was fighting its battle of oppression with organized medicine, chiropractors were, in turn, an instrument of oppression for African-Americans who desired to enter their profession. The Palmer School blatantly stated, “Negroes not accepted” in its catalogs of the 1920’s through the 1940’s (Palmer School of Chiropractic, 1930). The Lincoln College of Chiropractic, named after the Great Emancipator, also had racial restrictions from the 1920’s to the 1940’s (Lincoln Chiropractic College, 1926). These exclusionary practices were supported, in part, by social convention of the times. Some state and local laws institutionalized the restrictions. For example, Texas would not allow an African-American chiropractor to take post-graduate work in that state in 1956 (Westbrooks, 1982)…

In spite of the restrictive racial policies in the first half of the 20th century, some African-Americans did become chiropractors, either through training at segregated schools, through enrollment at integrated schools in the northern states or through subterfuge. Subterfuge took the form of denying one’s racial background and passing as white.

Black students sought different avenues to purse their education including utilizing mostly anonymous correspondence courses, speaking a foreign language (Blacks from other countries could attend, yet Blacks from America could not), and attending segregated schools. The first known African-American with a chiropractic degree, Dr Fred Rubel, a 1913 graduate of National School of Chiropractic (Gibbons and Wiese 1991), founded one such school. Dr. Rubel opened his school to “open the field of instruction to all races…” (Reiss, 2013). As stated previously, social convention at that time dictated the degree of segregation found throughout the country.

World War II brought a boon to the Chiropractic profession through the educational benefits of the GI bill and with it came many African-American veterans. As such, the years between 1949 and 1953 saw an influx of Black doctors into the field. After the GI Bill no longer supported military education benefits, a noticeable decline in enrollment was observed. The decades that followed saw minimal advancement blacks and declining numbers within the profession. As it stands currently, Black chiropractors make up approximately only 3% of Chiropractic physicians. Yet, even though our numbers have been declining, the chiropractic profession and the black community are inextricably linked by history.

I will leave you with a quote by Dr. Willard Smith (, 1991), who was the first black chiropractor to be the president of the California Chiropractic Association and any major chiropractic association. Dr. Smith stated in his acceptance speech,

The first chiropractic adjustment brought the chiropractic community and the Afro-American communities together forever. We don’t want to forget that both communities have had to struggle against injustice, discrimination, and prejudice.


  • (1991). California Chiropractic Association: Dr. Smith First Black President of Major Chiropractic Association. Dynamic Chiropractic 9(5):epub. Available:
  • Gibbons, RW & Wiese, G. (1991). Fred Rubel: The First Black Chiropractor?” Chiropractic History. 11(1):8-9.
  • Lincoln Chiropractic College, Catalogue, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Palmer School of Chiropractic. (1930). Bulletin. Davenport, Iowa.
  • Riess, R. (2013). African American History Month 2013. Palmer College of Chiropractic Library. Available:
  • Robbins, J. & Carhee, C. (2015). The “Black” History of Chiropractic: ABCA History. Presentation: American Black Chiropractic Association on February 7, 2015.
  • Westbrooks, Bobby. (1982). The Troubled Legacy of Harvey Lillard: The African-American Experience in Chiropractic. Chiropractic History. 2(1):47-54.
  • Wiese, G. 2009. A History of African-Americans in Chiropractic. Presentation: Palmer Diversity Event, 2009, via American Black Chiropractic Association.

Submitted by Stephen Thompson,

Words to Live By

Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.

--Coretta Scott King

Did You Know?

The first black woman to be licensed as a chiropractor was Dr. Samantha P. Adams, D.C. and the Ohio State Board of Chiropractic licensed her. Dr. Adams graduated from the Chiropractic Institute of New York (as managed by National University), practiced from 1950 to 1971, and was a very engaged citizen of Toledo, Ohio. She was elected to her local school board and was the first woman president of the Toledo NAACP. Dr. Adams was also involved in her church and sang with her family in many public venues.

Nominate a Dignity & Respect Champion

The Dignity & Respect Champions program recognizes those students, faculty, staff and administrators who embody the mission and vision of diversity at Northwestern. Our champions are fully committed to diversity, inclusion, equity and justice throughout our University and the healthcare community. Champions promote a safe, inclusive and supportive environment of diversity at Northwestern, act as active community members in promoting social justice, and take a strong interest in making health care accessible for everyone.

Do you know someone like this? You can nominate your Champion at any time. Thank you.

Submitted by Alejandra Dashe,

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)

We honor folks that get caught doing good deeds! Tell us!

Please email Megan Spees ( to nominate someone and make their day.

Links to Explore

Lunar New Year.

Happy New Year! It is the Year of the Rooster. The New Year fell on January 28. Find an excellent list of suggestions on how to start your New Year off on the right foot here.

Frederick Douglass.

Did you know that there is a museum at the Bloomington Civic Plaza? The Bloomington Human Rights Commission is running an excellent exhibit on Frederick Douglass until the end of February. It is free and open to the public. Enjoy!

Affordable Care Act.

The Senate took their first steps in repealing the Affordable Care Act in January. Although the GOP is interested in repealing within the first 100 days of the Trump administration, it may take some time because there is no consensus on the replacement and they have to confirm the cabinet nominees. I encourage you to follow these stories because they affect the lives of patients and their access to health care, and how the health care professionals are reimbursed for their work.

Antisemitism and Islamophobia in North America.

Antisemitism is racism against Jewish people. Islamophobia is racism against Muslims. The two communities have experienced several attacks on individual people, mosques, Jewish community centers, and Jewish cemeteries. White supremacy and Nazi signs, like swastikas, have also been appearing on college campuses. These are hate crimes against these communities, and Minnesota is not immune.

Here are some recent examples from the Star Tribune posted in in the last two months of 2017. One is a story on Muslim girls from all over the Twin Cities who experience Islamophobia at school. There are stories about the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Community Centers (JCC) that were threatened as part of a series of several JCC bomb threats across North America. Both communities are coming together to support each other and speak out against what is happening. As an example, the Muslim communities raised over $100,000 to repair a recently attacked St. Louis Jewish cemetery.

If you see something, say something. You can file a free discrimination complaint with the city of Minneapolis, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or the Anti-Defamation League.

Protests and Politics.

There have been several protests since President Trump was inaugurated. I will highlight a few: the Women's March on Washington, A Day Without Immigrants, and Planned Parenthood protests. UCLA reports that there is an upsurge in student interest in protest participation on issues of democracy, equality, and access to resources. The next big protest is on April 22nd (Earth Day). Be on the lookout for the March for Science. Also, be on the lookout to get involved in politics. EMILY'S List is recruiting women to participate.

Submitted by Alejandra Dashe,

Days to Remember

Here are the cultural holidays that some of our faculty, staff, and students observe.


January 1 – New Year’s Day; Hanukkah, Jewish

January 2 – New Year’s Day (no class)

January 6 – Epiphany, Christian

January 7 – Christmas, Eastern Orthodox Christian

January 12-15 – New Year, Buddhist

January 16 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (no class)

January 28 – Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, Eastern Asia

January 27- February 2 – Spring Festival, China


February – Black History Month

February 2 – Imbolc, Pagan

February 8 or 15 – Nirvana Day, Buddhist, Jain

February 20 – President’s Day (no class)

February 25 – Maha Shivaratri, Hindu

February 26-March 1 – Intercalary Days, Baha’i


March – Women’s History Month

March 1 – Ash Wednesday, Christian

March 2-March 20 – 19-Day Fast, Baha’i

March 13 – March 14 – Holi, Hindu


April 2 – April 4 – Chin Ming Festival, China

April 5 – Rama Navami, Hindu

April 9 – Palm Sunday, Christian, Eastern Orthodox Christian

April 10-18 – Passover, Jewish

April 11-14 – Theravada New Year, Buddhist

April 13 – Holy Thursday, Christian

April 14 – Good Friday, Christian

April 16 – Easter, Christian; Pascha, Eastern Orthodox Christian

April 21 – Day of Silence, LGBTQIA+

April 22 - Earth Day

April 24 – Lailat al Miraj, Islam

More holidays can be found here on these websites:

Check out the Office of Diversity & Inclusion's Cultural Calendar for more information on upcoming holidays or holidays not published here.

Submitted by Alejandra Dashe,

Topics in Diversity: Graduate Spotlight

Donna Sandburg, M.Om.

I feel honored to have been a diversity scholarship recipient. The scholarship has enabled me to complete my Masters of Oriental Medicine. Due to the debt that I incurred to complete my undergraduate program I would not have had enough financial aid to finish this program. I think that it is an awesome opportunity that every student should try and apply for.

While the requirements to maintain the scholarship were quite stringent for a full-time student with a family. I will say that it showed me that I could push myself further than I had ever thought I could. I held five to six different co-president/president club leadership positions, was a student ambassador and volunteered in many other capacities during the three years that I was at NWHSU.

How I was able to manage all of the above, manage to take care of my son and to maintain an excellent GPA, the Lord only knows. I believe that it was my steadfast faith in God, the support of family, friends and the wonderful faculty and staff at NWHSU. I could not have done it alone that is for sure. I want to thank everyone that has helped to contribute to my success as a student, helped me to become a better person and practitioner.

God Bless,

Donna Sandberg

Mai Chong Yang, M.Om.

Before I started my schooling here at Northwestern Health Sciences University, I have always had an interest in serving my community, even when I am here NWHSU, I still have the same interest in serving my community. Even now that I graduated, I am still interest in serving my community. Hence, I will still continue on this path of serving my community where I decided to call a place home.

I would like to say thank you to the Diversity Scholarship Committee members in having given my this scholarship and to also place your trust in that I will carry out the mission of the Diversity Leadership Scholarship awards. I am grateful to have received the Diversity Leadership Scholarship . With this award, my financial burden was lifted and I was able to do more than what I would have accomplish had I not receive the awards. With this opportunity given to me, I took the initiative and planed the Healthcare Communication: Bridging the Gap panel discussion, since I believe the most important aspect in helping everyone it through communication. Hence, the panel discussion was about bridging this gap between healthcare providers and patients. I hope that the school will continue to do something similar to what I have started because all current and healthcare providers need it very much as well as patients.

Again, thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve my community in this ways.

Mai Chong Yang

Participate in Our Events!

Office of Diversity & Inclusion has several upcoming events. We invite you to join us!

  • AIDS Walk: Enjoy the beautiful winter weather this weekend on Saturday, February 25 from 3:00pm-7:00pm at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. Sponsored by the Gender & Sexuality Alliance.

  • NEDA Walk: Walk the Mall of America for the National Eating Disorders Association on NWHSU's team on Sunday, February 26 at 7:30am-10:00am. You must register in advance on NWHSU's team to get a t-shirt. Brunch to follow. Co-sponsored by the University Counseling Center and ODI. Contact Becky Lawyer or Alejandra Dashe for more information and a student registration discount code.

  • Polar Plunge: Be part of the team to jump in Lake Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) on Saturday, March 4 at 10am-2pm for the Special Olympics. See Bobby Dorn for more information. Sponsored by ODI.

Submitted by Alejandra Dashe,

Past Events

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Science Museum of Minnesota

On Saturday, February 4, NWHSU participated in a community wide event celebrating Asian Americans in Science at the Science Museum of Minnesota. We spoke with several families about our education and clinical services. The best part was that we entertained kids in the oohs and ahs of science. Thanks to Bobby Dorn and Jessica Keesling for their participation and amazing teaching skills. Join us for this fun event next year!
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Going to China & Surprise Alumni Visit

February has been a great month for the acupuncture program. They have recently organized a 2017 trip to Henan University in Zhengzhou, China. Pictured above is our alum, Kim Christensen, M.Om., fundraising with her home-baked and gluten-free cookies. I hope that you had the spectacular chance to try a free sample and take some home!

You can support Kim and our acupuncture students by attending the LuLaRoe Simply Comfortable Fundraiser this Sunday, February 26 from 10am-4pm in the Foyer. A variety of clothing will be available, such as dresses, kids clothing, leggings, and more. All proceeds will benefit the the trip.

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The Love Your Melon Club sends cards and loving support to children with cancer diagnoses. Most recently they tabled in the foyer selling carnations and raffling off hats (pictured above). Now that you know about LYM, get involved! Contact Jessica Keesling for more information.

Volunteer Connection is a program here in Bloomington that allows students to get involved with their surrounding community through volunteering as a tutor! This specific program for tutors is called Homework Connection. There are many different times and places that volunteering can be done and it is widely available to anyone to tutor any subject for K-12 students

The girls group Courtney Bernard put together is at Washburn Elementary School, where she works with 3rd grade girls and their teacher, Serena Christensen. She volunteers with them every other Thursday for an hour to talk about women's issues, how to deal with them, and make it easier to talk about. She started an anti-bullying campaign, where they made posters and t-shirts to raise awareness about the issue of bullying. Contact Courtney Bernard for more information about volunteering at Washburn Elementary School.


The Neighborhood House is a community center on the West Side of St. Paul, located in the Wellstone Center. NH offers tutoring and mentoring for youth, adult programming, family and early childhood education, food support services, health education, and more. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Student Affairs have partnered to offer workstudy and volunteer positions at NH. Please apply here or speak with Alejandra Dashe or Lori Hannegraaf for more details.

The background image is a stock photo from
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Office of Diversity & Inclusion

The purpose of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to create a richer understanding of humanity, education and health care. Our responsibility to Northwestern is to ensure that we have an inclusive, diverse and safe environment for all members of the University community and communities we serve.

Alejandra Estrin Dashe, PhD

Senior Editor, From the Desk of Diversity
Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Associate Professor & Chair, Social Science & Humanities, College of Health & Wellness

Celia McDougle

Editor, From the Desk of Diversity
Student, College of Chiropractic
Diversity Scholar

Kirsten Kruse

Assistant Editor, From the Desk of Diversity

Student, Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, College of Health & Wellness

Diversity Scholar