CHICAGO (CBS) — This Black History Month, we want to tell you about a young Chicagoan who wears several hats – doctor, teacher, mentor, and activist.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, Dr. Abdullah Hasan Pratt’s determination to serve those who are suffering was shaped by a tragedy in his own family.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Mainly Clear And Not As Cold Sunday Night
Amid a pandemic and a surge in gun violence, many of the patients at the University of Chicago Medical Center are from the community that raised Pratt, an emergency room doctor at the U of C.
“To be able to work here on Chicago’s South Side in the midst of a pandemic, while also seeing the increases in the rates of violence and homicide due to gun violence here in Chicago, has been an honorary position,” Dr. Pratt said, “but it’s also a position that requires a lot of perseverance and a lot of resiliency.”
Perseverance and resiliency are pillars of Dr. Pratt’s life. A star football player at Morgan Park High School, he earned athletic and academic scholarships at Valparaiso University.
He went on to the University of Chicago Medical School, where he is also now a professor. As a child, his love of science was nurtured by his parents.
“Even though I couldn’t get the Jordans that I wanted; even though I couldn’t dress as nice as many of my classmates and peers,” Dr. Pratt said.
Pratt’s parents would put those funds toward after school programs, and toward summer camps at the Museum of Science and Industry or the Shedd Aquarium.
He found inspiration from another member of the family – his brother, Rashad.
“My older brother Rashad was my hero,” Dr. Pratt said. “There’s no better way to describe it.”READ MORE: At Least 20 Shot, 2 Killed In Weekend Violence In Chicago
Nine years ago, Doctor Pratt’s hero was shot to death. The family says he had an altercation with a stranger who might have been breaking into cars.
“My brother was definitely possessive of the community,” Dr. Prat said. “If he saw something that was out of place somebody up to no good, he would be the first one to address that without fear.”
That tragedy, and the murders of many others he’s known – and the health care inequities in the Black community – made Dr. Pratt want to become an activist and a mentor.
He founded a program that trains high school students how to respond to medical emergencies – strokes, heart attacks, even gunshots.
“The skills that they were learning were empowering for them,” Dr. Pratt said. “It was a tangible that they could take away and feel that: ‘Hey, I know a little bit. I know how to help save someone.’”
Dr. Abdullah Hasan Pratt is inside and outside the hospital healing a community.
“It’s got to be somebody’s purpose, and if it isn’t the young person that comes from the streets who knows these communities the best, then who is it?” he said.
As a medical student, Pratt joined protesters demanding the University of Chicago build a trauma center to treat victims of violence in surrounding communities. He says some advisers at the U of C warned he might be hurting his career by participating in the demonstrations.MORE NEWS: Boy, 11, Shot And Wounded In West Pullman; He Is Second Child Shot In Area Within Week
But the trauma center finally opened three years ago, and that is where Dr. Pratt works today.