Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson signs a copy of his book "A More Perfect Union" as a supporter takes his picture Oct. 23 at Barnes & Nobel in Topeka, Kan. (Chris Neal/AP)

During a recent visit to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, I expected to find some kind of tribute to Ben Carson. After all, before he became a GOP candidate for president, he’d reigned as king of pediatric neurosurgery at the venerable institution for 29 years.

Perhaps I’d discover a mural in the lobby depicting Carson’s hands, reaching from the clouds, healing children around the world. “Gifted Hands,” as in the title of his autobiography. Or “God-guided hands,” as he calls them on the campaign trail.

Not there.

Maybe there would be a “Gentle Ben” doctor doll in the gift shop.

Not there, either.

Here's the answer to one of the most Googled questions about one of the most Googled candidates. (Osman Malik and Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

I began asking employees and even visitors whether Hopkins was showing proper respect to the acclaimed brain surgeon. A receptionist looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

Most of the people I talked to were African American, like Carson. And nearly all of them were as socioeconomically conservative as Carson. They, too, expressed an ardent belief in hard work, personal responsibility, a loyalty to family and, above all, faith in God.

Such a group might have been easy pickings for a Republican Party looking to become more racially diverse. But not a GOP that continues to move closer to the far right and backs policies that seemingly do more harm than good to America’s black citizens.

For a different view of Carson, I called Reginald Davis and Donlin Long, neurosurgeons who were on the team that in 1987 pioneered the first successful separation of twins conjoined at the head. That was the case that made Carson famous.

“Ben is like a brother to me, and Donlin is our neurosurgical father,” explained Davis, who is director of research at the Laser Spine Institute in Tampa. He went on to say: “Some of what comes out of Ben’s mouth, I might not have said it that way. But the feelings behind it are sincere, and there is usually a kernel of truth to it.”

Carson’s personal journey — from black kid raised in a Detroit ghetto to world-famous brain surgeon — had been so compelling that few ever learned that Davis, chief resident of neurosurgery at the time, is also black.

Despite Carson’s effort to share the limelight, he ended up getting virtually all of the credit while the 70-member team he led was all but forgotten. One man, perceived by millions to have accomplished with a single pair of “gifted hands” what could only have been done by a multitude of medical experts.

Had that ego-boosting narrative fermented delusions of being leader of the free world?

“Ben is not the typical neurosurgeon with a very large ego,” said Long, a retired chief of neurosurgery at Hopkins now in private practice in Lutherville, Md.

“If his story was being promoted, it did not come from him. Not only were African Americans anxious to have a hero like Ben, I think lots of Americans were anxious to see his success as a sign that years of injustice were being addressed and we were really doing something to allow African Americans to accomplish what they were able to accomplish.”

Maybe Carson no longer wanted to be seen as “having been allowed” to do anything. Too liberal, perhaps, too much credit owed to affirmative action. “A person can do anything on his own” has become the mantra of the most fervent members of the GOP. All it takes is guts, guns and God.

On the second floor of the hospital, a “milestones in medicine” timeline stretches along a hallway wall. I finally came across a tribute to Carson. It was a small photo located on the bottom of the timeline, in a row set aside for people who had received awards.

Most other surgeons had larger photographs accompanying citations of their pioneering work. There’s one of Levi Watkins, for instance, an African American heart surgeon who, in 1980, “introduces a surgical procedure that will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”

I asked an African American couple perusing the timeline if they thought that Carson’s photograph ought to be enlarged. The woman held up a hand, thumb and index fingers about a half-inch a part.

“Smaller,” she said.