It all started with something his daughter said. Simple to her, but to him, it sparked an idea that would inspire thousands.
Russell Ledet, a Tulane University medical student, had taken his 8-year-old daughter on a tour of Whitney Plantation and had a conversation with her about what their ancestors endured as slaves, according to a story originally from The Advocate.
"Dad," the young girl said, "being a black doctor in America is a big deal. You gotta think about how far we have come."
What his daughter said inspired Ledet to return to the plantation, located in St. John the Baptist Parish, with 14 of his medical school classmates. They posed for pictures, standing proud in their white lab coats in front of a cabin where slaves once lived.
The photos have since been shared thousands of times, starting conversations online about "the under-representation of African-Americans in professions like medicine."
Ledet, 33, grew up in Lake Charles and has an undergraduate degree from Southern University, a Ph.D. in molecular oncology from New York University, and is currently studying for an MBA and medical degree from Tulane, The Advocate reports.
Ledet and another student featured in the photos shared them on Twitter and Instagram.
"We are our ancestors' wildest dreams," said Ledet in his Tweet.
We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams.✨— Russell Joseph Ledet, Ph.D. (@theguywithyes) December 14, 2019
In the background, an original slave quarter.
In the foreground, original descendants of slaves and medical students. #whatatimetobealive #yeahwecandoboth pic.twitter.com/INOUMmc1cx
The photos and story have since been picked up by CNN, NPR, and various news stations across the country.
The students hope to distribute "100,000 photographs of their visit to schools across the country."
Ledet explained, "These babies, they need this. This needs to change the way kids see themselves."
Read The Advocate's full story here.