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Watch the award-winning documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman and directed by Andrea Kalin. Listen to a dynamic panel moderated by Dr. Robert Higgins, M.D., the Director of the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Join us for this special virtual cinema event:

August 5, 2020

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Partners of the Heart tells the remarkable story of Vivien Thomas, an African-American carpenter who at the height of segregation forged a partnership with Dr. Alfred Blalock that changed medical history. Thomas is one of America’s untold heroes, both for his scientific achievements and his transcending of the strictures of his time. In telling the story of this unlikely partnership, the film not only illuminates science history but humanizes it, showing how curious, inspired individuals push ahead—even through barriers of race and class—to pursue the most defining of all human endeavors: the search for knowledge. 

Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity and the Johns Hopkins Diaspora Employee Resource Group, the Partners of the Heart Live Cinema Event will also include a panel discussion.


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Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.H.S.

Dr. Golden is the Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine. She holds joint appointments in the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and in the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. The author of more than 190 articles, Dr. Golden’s research interests focus on mental health    

complications of diabetes, understanding and eliminating diabetes health disparities and implementing and evaluating systems interventions to improve patient safety and quality of care in hospitalized patients with diabetes. Click here to learn more.  


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Koco Eaton, M.D.

Dr. Koco Eaton graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and began an orthopedic residency at the Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his orthopedic training, Dr. Eaton completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship in Birmingham, Alabama, under the direction of Dr. James Andrews.  Dr. Eaton currently has a private practice in St. Petersburg, Florida and is the Orthopedic surgeon for the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as a faculty member at the University of South Florida.  

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Valeria Spann

Valeria Thomas Spann, CSW is the daughter of Harold E. Thomas, Vivien Thomas's older brother.  During her professional career she was a clinician, educator and administrator.  This included her roles as an Assistant Director of Social Work at NYC's Presbyterian Hospital; Faculty Field Instructor and Advisor at Columbia University School of Social Work;and Consultant at the Bureau of Maternity Services at the NYC Department of Health.  Before retiring, she served as the Director of the Statewide AIDS Service Delivery Consortium within

the New York State Department of Health.  She is still active in the health care arena as an officer and Board member of the Ryan Health Organization, a FQHC in NYC.

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Chris Haley

Chris Haley portrayed Vivien Thomas in Partners of the Heart.  In addition to his work as an actor, Haley has worked at the Maryland State Archives for over 20 years, where he currently serves as the Director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland.  He is the nephew of Alex Haley, the author of Roots.  He is a genealogist, actor, singer, writer, historian, producer and director.  

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Mike Edenburn

Mike Edenburn was born a "blue baby" and came with his parents to Johns Hopkins in October 1945, where he was operated on by Dr. Alfred Blalock.  He has gone on to live a fulfilling life as a computer specialist, entrepreneur, family man, devoted Catholic and an active member of the Rotary Club of Cebu, Philippines.  You can learn more about his story here



Robert Higgins, M.D.

Dr. Robert Higgins is the Director of the Department of Surgery and a Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins.  The first American-American Director of Surgery at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Higgins is a leading authority in heart and lung transplantation, minimally invasive cardiac surgery, and mechanical circulatory support. His scientific interests are broad and far-ranging, including the mechanisms of cell injury in failing hearts, health economics and policy, racial disparities in post-transplant outcomes, access to care and improving outcomes among

heart failure and cardiac surgery patients.  Prior to Johns Hopkins, Dr. Higgins was the professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Ohio State University, as well the director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at the Wexner Medical Center. Click here to learn more.


Please join us in this petition to the United States Postal Service to create a stamp honoring Vivien T. Thomas. The Black Heritage Commemorative Stamp Series has honored some of the black figures who have made their mark on history. Thomas is undoubtedly worthy of such an honor.


After the event, we encourage you to review these resources provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine and Spark Media​​


Celebration of Excellence:

Inspiring the Next Generation

Dr. Robert Higgins joins JHU physicians, advocates and filmmakers of Partners of the Heart in mentoring students at the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy. A public high school in Baltimore and the only school in the country named after Vivien Thomas. 

Levi Watkins, MD on

Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas may never have made it to medical school, but his research and the surgical techniques that he created have saved tens of thousands of lives. The late Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. (1944-2015), a prominent civil rights activist and cardiac surgeon who successfully implanted the first automatic defibrillator in a human patient, speaks about Thomas' story and legacy.


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