Tag Archives: Black History Month

African American medical pioneers

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   The road for African Americans in the medical professions has not been easy. Enslaved Africans received no education.1 During the first half of the nineteenth-century medical schools in the North would admit only a very small number of black students. Even after the Civil War, African Americans continued […]

Dr. Rebecca Cole and racial health disparities in nineteenth-century Philadelphia

Meg Vigil-Fowler Grand Junction, Colorado   The anatomy lecture room at the Woman’s Medical College of New York Infirmary. Published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  April 16, 1870. Library of Congress. From the beginning of black women’s professional involvement in medicine, public health marked a central component of the scope of their practice. Rebecca Cole, […]

Character, genius, and a missing person in medicine

Carrie Barron Austin, Texas, USA   The Calling “He is the most un-talked about, unacknowledged, unknown and most important figure in the African American community… A genius.”1 In 1944, a surgeon with his trusted guide by his side performed the very first open-heart surgery on a fifteen-month-old, nine-pound girl. 1930 Nashville. A twenty-year old African […]

Dr. Charles Drew, Philip Roth, and race

James Franklin Chicago, Illinois, USA   Charles R. Drew 1904 “My point is, if you have a course on health and whatever, then you do know Dr. Charles Drew. You’ve heard of him?” “No.” “Shame on you, Mr. Zukerman. I’ll tell you in a minute” . . . “You haven’t told me who Dr. Charles […]

“Without dissent”: early black physicians in Alabama

A.J. Wright Birmingham, Alabama, USA   Burgess Scruggs 2 Cornelius Nathaniel Dorsette 3 Hale Infirmary, Montgomery, Alabama 4 Halle Tanner Dillon 5 Alabama Medical Association Votes to Admit Negroes 1 There is a brief but interesting note in the July 1953 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association, the official voice of the organization founded in 1895 for African-American […]

“Mississippi Appendectomy” and other stories: when silence is complicity

Alida Rol Eugene, Oregon, United States    Patient on the Table, 2017. Watercolor by Alida Rol, private collection. The world moves fast and it would rather pass u by than 2 stop and c what makes u cry. – Tupac Shakur, “The Rose That Grew from Concrete”   She sits perched on the exam table in a […]

Freedman’s Hospital

Yanglu Chen New Jersey, United States   Freedmen’s Hospital, the teaching hospital for Howard University Medical School The name itself, Freedmen’s Hospital, betrays a sense of bitter conflict: that there existed men unfreed, and they were not treated here – and that even the freed men had only this hospital. In fact, Freedmen’s Hospital in […]

Provident Hospital – the first Black owned and operated medical institution in the United States

Raymond H. Curry VeeLa Sengstacke Gonzales Chicago, Illinois, United States    Nurses tending to a patient at Provident Hospital Prior to 1891 there was not in this country a single hospital or training school for nurses owned and managed by colored people … there are now twelve! … and not a single failure in the […]

“Heard It through the Grapevine”: The black barbershop as a source of health information

Joyce Balls-Berry Lea C. Dacy Rochester, Minnesota, USA James Balls St. Louis, Missouri, USA     The black barbershop has been a crucial gathering place in the history of the Civil Rights movement to the present day, when Barack Obama’s campaign itineraries included barbershop visits. Lesser known is the role of the black barbershop as […]