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Louis M. Abbey

periodontist, public health specialist, and educator, was born Clifton Orin Dummett in Georgetown, British Guiana (later Guyana), the youngest of four children of Eglantine Annabella Johnson, a homemaker, and Alexander Adolphus Dummett, a pharmacist and registered dentist. Clifton attended St. Phillips Elementary School from 1924 until 1930 and Queen's College high school from 1930 until 1936, both in Georgetown, British Guiana. His values were strongly influenced by his father, mother, and uncle, Reginald Johnson, an Edinburgh-trained public health physician in Georgetown. “I came from a family that believed in the equality of man. I respected all peoples and demanded similar respect from those with whom I came in contact” (personal communication with the author).

Right after high school, in 1936 Alexander Adolphus Dummett obtained a student visa for his son to study in the United States at Howard University in Washington D ...

Article

Elvatrice Parker Belsches

dentist, dental and medical organizational leader, hospital founder, and author, was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, the oldest of the six children of William B. Ferguson and Cornelia Taylor Ferguson. William Ferguson was a noted educator in Portsmouth, Ohio, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and at the Christiansburg Industrial Institute in Virginia. David's brother George R. Ferguson, MD, served as assistant secretary for the National Medical Association (NMA), and his nephew William Ferguson Reid, MD, was the first African American elected to the Virginia legislature in the twentieth century.

In 1885 William Ferguson moved his family to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where David Ferguson completed grammar school and embarked upon the first of two invaluable dentistry apprenticeships. In 1889 Ferguson began apprenticing for the white dentist Dr. E. T. Barr for whom he worked until shortly before returning to Portsmouth Ohio to enter high school ...

Article

Robert Fikes

dentist, civil rights activist, and art and book collector, was born Jack Johnson Kimbrough in Lexington, Mississippi, the son of Samuel Gulbridge Kimbrough, a blacksmith, and Mary Hoover. Jack was named after the famed African American boxer Jack Johnson. When he was seven, the Kimbroughs, intimidated by local Ku Klux Klansmen and seeking better economic opportunities, moved from Mississippi to Alameda, California, where relatives resided. After graduating from Alameda High School in 1926 Jack attended Sacramento Junior College He continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley where he studied chemistry while working as a janitor waiter cook and landscaper His interest in science as well as the relatively shorter time that it took to earn a dentistry degree than a medical degree persuaded him enroll in the University of California Dental School in San Francisco from which he graduated with ...

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Pamela Blackmon

orthodontist, educator, and U.S. Army colonel, was born in Chicago, the son of Eugene Renfroe and Bertha. A 1921 graduate of Austin O. Sexton Grammar School, Renfroe attended James H. Bowen High School, where he was the first African American student in the school's history to achieve the rank of cadet commander in the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC). This was one of many “firsts” that characterized his life.

Renfroe next enrolled at Crane Junior College, then he was admitted to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry. While there, he became the first student to tackle a full course load while also working full-time outside of the college. Undaunted by the difficulties of such a feat, he still managed to graduate first in a class of 127 dental students in 1931.

By the time Renfroe joined the Illinois National Guard in ...

Article

J. D. Bowers

civil rights activist, religious pioneer, dentist, and investor, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the youngest son of Thomas Gustavius Somerville, an Anglican minister. Little is known about his mother. He was educated in the Jamaican public schools, where he learned that social status and racial attitudes often triumphed over equality, and between 1897 and 1900 he attended and graduated from Mico College in Kingston with a teaching degree.

Rather than strain against the prevailing practices, Somerville left home for the United States in December 1901 at age nineteen in the company of a childhood friend seeking both adventure and a future devoid of racial intolerance Arriving in San Francisco with some money from his father Somerville quickly settled in Los Angeles a city whose prospects he considered promising Even in Los Angeles however he felt the pangs of America s racial prejudice He was ...