Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream




An inspirational and compelling memoir of a young black man who grew up in abject poverty and rose to become one of the world’s pre-eminent scientists in the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Frank L. Douglas was raised in the small South American country of Guyana. Suffering under the weight of poverty, Douglas faced severe childhood trauma, often questioning his place in his family and yearning for acceptance. Despite these obstacles, Douglas excelled academically, showing great promise at school and winning multiple awards.

In 1963, two weeks before Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington, twenty-year-old Douglas arrives in the United States as a Fulbright scholar. A curious and motivated young man, Douglas was shocked by the racism he received from white Americans and the cultural prejudice he received from black Americans. Struggling with his faith and identity, Douglas became the master of his own fate through grit, hard work, and the road less travelled. He went on to complete his Ph.D. and M.D. from Cornell University, and a residency in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins.

In his career, Douglas continued to climb the ranks of academia and made significant discoveries in the pharmacology field. He established the Center for Biomedical Innovation at MIT and received the George Beene Foundation Award, GQ Magazine’s Rock Star of Science Award, Black History Maker Award and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award. He has continued to champion the cause of African American students, having never forgotten his own roots in a poverty-ridden, politically conflicted homeland. The meaning of his name—Frank being Celtic for “free man” and Douglas being Scottish for “from a black stream”—has become his personal banner.

Defining Moments of a Free Man from A Black Stream is a brilliant memoir of race, pain, survival, hard work, and one man’s remarkable ability to take control of his own destiny and achieve success. It is a deeply moving story from a powerful new voice who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

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