Black History Month
History. Tradition. Community.
February is Black History Month.
Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February. The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity. We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers. Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.
Future History Maker
Future History Dr. Eleshia J Morrison is an assistant professor of psychology, and clinical health psychologist at the Mayo Clinic Adult Pain Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Morrison is a young professional who uses who passion for medicine and helping others to explore ways for removing barriers to equity.
As a young girl Dr. Morrison was very much inspired by her parents’ and grandparents’ work ethic and their approach to enjoying life. Her parents immigrated to Canada from the Caribbean for greater educational and employment opportunities. Morrison says, “My family members value education and modeled hard work, but also there was a lot of laughter and love in my family. This encouraged me to obtain an education, but also strive for a balanced life of enjoying diverse experiences.”
Dr. Morrison, a native of Toronto, Canada moved to Minnesota in 2014. Dr. Morrison completed her doctoral degree in clinical health psychology at The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH), followed by a clinical internship at Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL), and a postdoctoral fellowship in Medical Psychology at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN).
Today as a clinical health psychologist Dr. Morrison researches health disparity/diversity factors impacting illness trajectories and health behaviors. In addition, Dr. Morrison’s clinical work has been with individuals with acute and chronic illness, with specialty in oncology, chronic pain, and organ transplantation. Dr. Morrison also spends a significant amount of time training and mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows in learning about psychosocial factors impacting illness and the delivery of evidence-based psychological treatments.
While Dr. Morrison is just beginning her career she as all the makings of a bright future. Moreover, Dr. Morrison’s drive and ambition is complemented by a passion for helping others. Dr. Morrison says, “As a clinical health psychologist, I often meet people when they are at their most vulnerable, physically and psychologically. I am thankful to be able to help someone shift from experiencing hopelessness to feeling hopeful about what lies ahead. To be a part of such a transformation is truly a privilege.”
Most Rewarding Work Experience
Some of my most rewarding work experiences are two-fold-being able to work with compassionate colleagues every day and seeing individuals’ lives improve through interventions that are designed to improve functionality and get people back to living life in spite of their health challenges.
What Inspires You
I am greatly inspired by my family-they are a blessing. While I find my work to be important, valuable, and fulfilling, it is my family life that provides ultimate meaning and balance to my life. There is value in being able to find meaning in personal relationships in order to experience a sense of a balanced existence.
Advice for Aspiring Professionals
My general advice is to always pursue what you enjoy. We all have talents and abilities, but they don’t always necessarily coincide with our passions. There is a great deal of work that goes into building a professional career. Being able to say that you genuinely and thoroughly enjoy your learning, training, and work life makes the inevitable challenges and barriers easier to manage.
- Toronto, Canada
- Clinical Health PsychologyMayo Clinic College of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellowship –
- The Ohio State University, Ph.D. – Psychology (Clinical)
- The Ohio State University, MA – Psychology (Clinical)
- McGill University, BS- Psychology
Like Dr. Morrison, today’s Legacy Leader, Dr. John Williams was a respected civic leader. Dr. John Williams was born in 1945 in Jackson, Mississippi, and was raised in Toledo, Ohio, where he was an All-City athlete in both football and basketball. He was heavily recruited by numerous colleges, but attended the University of Minnesota, where he was a star football player. In 1967, he was named as a First Team All–Big Ten tackle and was instrumental in the Gophers winning the Big Ten title that year.
In 1968, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and became the first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Colts. He was an offensive lineman for the Colts, playing in the Super Bowl twice, and winning Super Bowl V. Dr. Williams also played for the Los Angeles Rams and went to Super Bowl XIV with them. During the off-season, he worked on a doctorate of dental surgery degree from the University of Maryland. After playing professional football for 12 years, he moved back to Minnesota to open a dental practice.
Dr. Williams opened his dentist’s office on West Broadway, practicing in north Minneapolis for almost 25 years. He leveraged his education and influence to increase access to health care in minority communities; working to eliminate health care disparities. Dr. Williams won the Minneapolis volunteer of the year award in 1992 and for almost two decades was active in leading a prison ministry team. He served as president of the West Broadway Business Association and a board member of the Minneapolis Urban League.
Dr. Williams was trained in forensic dentistry and was a member of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Following the September 11th tragedy in New York City, he participated on the identification team at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Dr. Williams was appointed in 2002 by Gov. Jesse Ventura and reappointed twice by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Dr. Williams was a highly regarded leader who deeply cared for the North Minneapolis community.