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Fifteen Tulane University medical students posed for this picture at Whitney Plantation

Source: Sydney Labat / Sydney Labat via Instagram

A group of Black medical students are making headlines for posting a picture of themselves in their white coats. But it’s where they took the picture that matters: They were standing on the grounds of a former plantation.

The 15 members of Tulane University’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) are making a powerful statement by showing just much they are living out our ancestors’ wildest dreams. In the photo, they are standing on the grounds of the Whitney Plantation in Edgard, Louisiana.

“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.


According to PEOPLE Magazine, the idea for this meaningful and emotional post was Russell Ledet’s idea, a father who recently completed her Ph.D. and MBA. He told the publication that it came to him after visiting the plantation a few months ago.

“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.’”

He later told his classmates about the idea, stressing there was “this connection between America’s past and America’s present,” that is would be a great way to show the power of representation in the medical field.

Since the picture was posted, it’s gone viral with thousands of likes on Instagram and Twitter, along with dozens of news stories being written about it.

Labat recently told CNN that she knew the image would garner attention, but that it’s meaning is deeper than just going viral for viral’s sake.

“You just get a feeling, and you think this is going to be impactful and this is going to mean something. It’s not about going viral or the attention … it’s about being inspirational.”
Adding, “To see people that look like me on this photo would have been so substantial for me as a younger student, and that is the whole purpose.”
Despite not every Black student in the program was there–only 15 of 65 people–but the message is still clear, and memorable.
In order to be it, we need to see it. Most importantly, we need to see and know where we’ve come from and as Black folks are even in the face of oppression, we persist.


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Black Tulane Medical Students Stand On Former Slave Plantation in Their White Coats  was originally published on