An online program, “Do No Harm: Black Bodies and Bioethics,” on April 26 presented a filmed presentation of the play “Do No Harm” and two lectures exploring its themes and implications. The event was sponsored by Perkins School of Theology, the Robinson Arts Fund at the Perkins School of Theology, and the Perkins African American Fine Arts and Bioethics Project.

An introductory lecture by Evelyn L. Parker, Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins School of Theology, opened the program. Next, the filmed play “Do No Harm” portrayed the story of three enslaved Black women – Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey – who were the subjects of needlessly horrific medical and surgical experiments by Dr. James Marion Sims (1813 – 1883). Sims, a white male surgeon, is still honored today in the medical community as “the father of modern gynecology.” A worship service followed, with music and liturgy by Garth Kasimu Baker-Fletcher, and the program concluded with a lecture on Bioethics, including ‘Black Bioethics'” by Theodore Walker Jr., Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Perkins.

“The program affirmed that Black lives matter in medicine and in bioethics,” said Walker. “Books in medical schools and statues continue to celebrate Sims while ignoring the Black lives of Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey.”

“Do No Harm” was written by Anyika McMillan-Herod and premiered in January 2021 at Soul Rep Theatre in Dallas. McMillan-Herod and Vickie Washington co-directed the film performance, with cinematography by Tonya Holloway and Sonny Jefferson. The world premiere was originally commissioned by Parker and the Association of Practical Theology. View the official trailer for Soul Rep world premiere of Do No Harm on YouTube at https://youtu.be/JA_EjRMdFJQ.