Percy Julian and the cortisone connection


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I happen to be healing from a wound that punctured the shin area through the skin stopping at the bone. It's been a few weeks, with it still inflamed around the area, so I decided to try some cortisone. After 12 hours, the results where amazing. The puncture is still there, but the inflammation has been significantly reduced. My natural curiosity about things led me to look up cortisone, and to my surprise, there was the name Percy Julian.

Being Black History Month, and not much has been in the media as in the past years (maybe because we have the first black man as president), I thought it was of interest that a man who tried to buy a home in Oak Park and was denied, and finally bought a home on Chicago Avenue, had this healing product attributed to his name.

I had some knee damage while in the army, and about two years ago I was given a shot of cortisone to help relieve the pain. Amazing stuff then and amazing stuff now. So my thanks go out to Mr. Percy Julian, who persevered in spite of all the hate he encountered, based only on the color of his skin.

Here's something interesting, and I encourage all people to search out the many inventions and products we use today that were developed by African-Americans.

Percy Julian was noted most for his synthesis of cortisone from soy beans, used in treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. His synthesis reduced the price of cortisone. Percy Julian was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990. Dr. Percy Lavon Julian was born on April 11, 1899 and died on April l9, 1975. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater had this to say about Percy Julian: "Those who had earlier sought to keep their slaves in chains were well aware of the threat education posed to their 'peculiar' institution." Consider what happened to the grandfather of Dr. Percy Julian, the great Black research chemist who, over his lifetime, was awarded 105 patents - among them a treatment for glaucoma and a low-cost process to produce cortisone. When Percy Julian decided to leave Alabama to go to college in Indiana, his entire family came to see him off at the train station, including his 99-year-old grandmother, a former slave. His grandfather was also there. His grandfather's right hand was two fingers short. His fingers had been cut off for violating the code forbidding slaves to learn to read and write.

Bill Maxwell
Oak Park

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