Russell J. Ledet is a second-year medical student in Tulane University School of Medicine's M.D./MBA program.
Last weekend he organized a trip for his fellow black colleagues to a historic plantation.
The result is now a series of powerful images that have gone viral on social media.
The trip was coordinated through the Tulane chapter of the Student National Medical Association which is a student-run organization that supports black medical students.
A group of 15 African-American med students visited the Whitney Plantation, presently a museum in Edgard, Louisiana. The future doctors all wore short white coats, symbols of their medical training, and posed in front of former slave quarters.
Ledet's idea for the trip was inspired in part by his childhood.
"I don't think as a kid I ever saw a minority physician."
While Ledet may not have ever seen a minority physician as a child, his photo proves that the face of medicine is changing rapidly.
He posted the photo to Twitter with the caption,
"We are our ancestors' wildest dreams. In the background, an original slave quarter. In the foreground, original descendants of slaves and medical students."
We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams.✨ In the background, an original slave quarter. In the foreground, original… https://t.co/cGi04qOV67— Russell Joseph Ledet, Ph.D. (@Russell Joseph Ledet, Ph.D.)1576367381.0
Another photo was posted by his classmate.
The two Tweets have been liked and shared thousands of times.
While speaking about the importance of the location of the photo, Ledet said,
"I wanted this photo to just show: We're here. This place is meant to destroy us. This place is meant to devalue us. But we here. [sic]"
His classmate, Sydney Labat added that they are not "going anywhere". She further explained her feelings about the photo.
"This is about resiliency."
Labat also explained that the students wanted to make sure that their poses captured them,
"looking determined and looking strong — embodying the strength of the people who lived on those grounds."
Not only does the photograph show their strength, but it also shows that despite historical adversity, they can have it all.
"[You] can be smart, you can be a doctor, you can be unapologetically black — all of those simultaneously."
Russell, who formerly served in the U.S. Navy and has a Ph.D. in molecular oncology from New York University, is focused on the impact this photograph can have on future generations of medical professionals.
"We are aware of our position and what we mean to a whole lot of children. A whole lot of undergrads are hoping and praying to get an interview for medical school, or even somebody to just look at their application. We're here as living proof that it's possible. If we can do it, anybody can do it."
Barely one week later (at the time of this article's writing), the photos have already made a huge impact on the internet.
@theguywithyes @Potato_Chip This is one very powerful photo. ♥️— Natalie Wall (@Natalie Wall)1576384822.0
@theguywithyes I am so proud of each and every one of you. Our ancestors are proud of you. I love every bit of this… https://t.co/xn7XjOxH71— Valerie A. Fitzhugh, MD (@Valerie A. Fitzhugh, MD)1576384592.0
@theguywithyes @BriChristophers GOD I love this picture so much. I may have to recreate it since the plantations wh… https://t.co/OxXvY7soOR— Lawren W, MS (@Lawren W, MS)1576373128.0
@theguywithyes Heart-arrestingly beautiful.— Beth Moore (@Beth Moore)1576507815.0
@_botttt This is chilling, but EVERYTHING. So proud of all of you. Always keep your heads up, even when it seems im… https://t.co/y0tsLn0eqC— Merle Carter (@Merle Carter)1576666683.0
@_botttt The only photos that should be taken on former plantations.— UK Wildcats (8-3) (@UK Wildcats (8-3))1576673303.0
@_botttt Makes me cry. Amazing work.— Ed Solomohoho (@Ed Solomohoho)1576690988.0
@_botttt Ok this is one of the best pictures I've seen all year. Keep GRINDING and NEVER let anyone tell you you're… https://t.co/0Oghw1gu9h— Amir Bomani (@Amir Bomani)1576397941.0
@_botttt This gave me chills! If only they could imagine a future like this, whew.. yeah I’m crying. This is beautiful.— baby (@baby)1576427592.0
All of our dreams, I hope. https://t.co/0zsE4ifeCe https://t.co/BPzBGbcFun— Doctor Octothorpe (@Doctor Octothorpe)1576954535.0
@NPR More power to each and every one of you. ❤️🙏🏾❤️— Just Sayin’! (@Just Sayin’!)1576953277.0
@NPR Thank you for sharing. Gorgeous, thought provoking. Humbling. #BeBetter, all of us.— Tracy Koeneman (@Tracy Koeneman)1576953880.0
This is awesome. https://t.co/kPD9LautF3— Jacob Langston (@Jacob Langston)1576895839.0
There is no doubt that these students have already positively impacted many people's lives.