American Experience
Early Years: Pivotal Decisions
Pivotal Decisions: Should Vivien Thomas Wear a Lab Coat?

You chose Choice One. Thomas should stop wearing the full white lab coat altogether.

While working in the lab, Thomas could wear a protective apron or one of the shorter lab jackets.


People will stop staring at Thomas as he passes them in the street and in the corridors.
The issue of his dress will cease to be of concern.
Dropping this issue will leave more room to fight other battles, such as salary.


Thomas will surrender the one visible sign of his pride and accomplishment in his job.
Removing the lab coat will send a negative message to other African Americans working at Johns Hopkins.
White people at Johns Hopkins should see examples of African Americans in higher-level positions.

See choices again

See what actually happened