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Dorsia Smith Silva

physician, politician, and delegate to the U.S. Congress, was born Donna Marie Christian in Teaneck, New Jersey, to Virginia Sterling Christian and retired Chief District Court Judge Almeric L. Christian, from St. Croix. Christian-Christensen's parents wanted their daughter to understand her cultural connections to the Virgin Islands, so she spent part of her adolescence in St. Croix. This time in St. Croix had a profound influence on Christian-Christensen's career and commitment to helping others.

Christian-Christensen returned to the United States to graduate from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she earned a B.S. degree in 1966. After reading a United Negro College Fund booklet about the lack of minorities in health care, she decided to enter the medical field. She attended George Washington University Medical School and earned an M.D. degree in 1970. From 1970 to 1971 Christian Christensen worked an as ...

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Edward T. Morman

physician and public health activist, was born in Point-á-Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies, the son of Eleodore Cornely and Adrienne Mellon. When he was three years old, his family moved to Santurce, Puerto Rico. In 1920 the family relocated to Harlem for one year and then moved to Detroit, where his father found work in an auto plant.

After attending Detroit City College, Cornely transferred to the University of Michigan. He earned his AB in 1928 and his MD in 1932 both from the University of Michigan where he was one of 4 blacks in a medical school class of 250 students Unable to get an internship in the North he spent a year at the segregated Lincoln Hospital in Durham North Carolina He intended to continue with specialty training in surgery but effectively barred from a residency he returned to the University of Michigan to study public ...

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Elvita Dominique

physician, professor, mental health activist, and Harlem community leader, was born Elizabeth Bishop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the eldest of the three children of Shelton Hale Bishop and Eloise Carey. Her mother's father, Archibald James Carey Sr., was an influential African Methodist Episcopal (AME) clergyman in Chicago. Her father's father, Hutchens C. Bishop, was the first black graduate of General Theological Seminary in New York City, the oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church. He was also the fourth rector of the important and influential Saint Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem. Bishop's parents continued their families' tradition of public service. Her father, who received a BA and a doctorate of divinity from Columbia University, succeeded his own father as the fifth rector of Saint Philip's. Her mother was a teacher.

Elizabeth Bishop s interest in psychiatry can be traced to the work of her father He was an ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

physician and activist, was born Lena Frances Edwards in Washington, D.C., the youngest of three children of Thomas Edwards, a professor of dentistry at Howard University, and Marie Coakley. Dissuaded from becoming a dentist by her father, the young Lena instead set her heart on a medical career. She graduated from Dunbar High School as valedictorian in 1918 and enrolled at Howard University. Her plans were nearly derailed when she fell victim to Spanish influenza during the deadly epidemic of 1918. Edwards managed to sufficiently recover to quickly resume her studies. The experience of narrowly escaping the “purple death” may have influenced Edwards to cram as much as possible into every hour of every day remaining to her. She took summer classes at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a bachelor's of science from Howard in June 1921 after only three years of study Accepted ...

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Amy M. Hay

Edwards’s service was also recognized in 1967 when she received the Poverello Medal, awarded to individuals whose lives followed the ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi. Blessed with financial and familial support, her ministry to poor European immigrants and Mexican migrants, her own life of voluntary poverty, and her service to the African American community all made her a worthy recipient of such honors. She spent a lifetime addressing the needs of the poor, women, students, and the aged.

Edwards was born in Washington, DC. Her parents, Thomas Edwards, a professor of dentistry at Howard University, and Marie Coakley Edwards, had three other children. Edwards grew up in a middle-class family, part of the capital’s elite society at the time. At an early age she decided she wanted to become a doctor. She attended Washington’s Dunbar High School, graduating in 1917 as valedictorian She attended Howard ...

Article

E. Beardsley

physician, was born in Aiken, South Carolina, the daughter of Anderson Evans and Hariett Corley, occupations unknown. Her improbable achievement of breaking through the hostile racial environment of post-Reconstruction South Carolina to become a physician was due largely to her drive and talent. It was also a tribute to certain outside influences at work in the South of her youth.

In 1868 moved by the current of interracial idealism that was galvanizing so many northern progressives the Philadelphia Quaker Martha Schofield had established in Aiken a school for colored youth Although it emphasized industrial skills the school also offered a sizable infusion of cultural and scientific subjects Evans won a place at Schofield s school and her performance was so impressive that it caught the notice of the Quaker benefactress who encouraged and aided the younger woman to continue on at the preparatory academy of Oberlin College ...

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Darlene Clark Hine

At the outset of the Great Depression in 1930, Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans launched a free-clinic movement that inspired the Columbia, South Carolina, black community to demand healthcare citizenship rights, even as the state became less inclined to adopt any progressive reform that would improve the material conditions of black lives. Dr. Evans, however, insisted that healthcare was a citizenship right that was every bit a state responsibility, as was public school education.

Matilda Arabella Evans was the eldest of three children born to Anderson and Harriet Evans in Aiken County, South Carolina She came of age during the tumultuous post Reconstruction era The New South held scant opportunities for social class mobility higher education and professional careers for black women But Evans was more fortunate than most She was one of the few desperately poor black women who managed to escape the lifelong consignment to domestic drudgery ...

Article

Susan L. Smith

physician and social reformer, was born Dorothy Celeste Boulding in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding, a superintendent with the railroad mail service, and Florence Cornelia Ruffin, a teacher. She came from a well-established family in which several members were lawyers, but from childhood she wanted to be a physician. When her mother became ill, Ferebee went to live with an aunt in Boston, where she attended secondary school. She graduated from two respected Boston area institutions, Simmons College in 1920 with honors and Tufts University College of Medicine in 1924 Her accomplishments were especially notable because many educational institutions of the time discriminated against women and African Americans In her class of 137 medical students there were only five women and as Ferebee explained We women were always the last to get assignments in amphitheaters and clinics And I I was the last ...

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Margaret Jerrido

who was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding and Florence Ruffin Boulding. In Dorothy’s oral history she admits that she is not certain about her birthdate because when she was born, births for blacks were not registered in Norfolk. For social security and school purposes her father provided the date of 10 October 1898. Her two older brothers were educated in the public schools of Norfolk, but because her mother was very ill following Dorothy’s birth, the child was sent to Boston and taken care of by her great aunt, Emma Ruffin, who played an important role in her early education. Dorothy attended primary school from 1904 to 1906 in the West End of Boston and then attended Bowdoin, a grammar school, also located in the West End, from 1906 to 1908 The health of Dorothy s mother greatly improved over these ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

child actor, was born Allen Clayton Hoskins in Boston to Florence (maiden name unknown) and Allen C. Hoskins Sr. He had one sister, Jane Florence. His parents’ occupations are not known.

Silent film director Hal Roach signed Hoskins to star in his Our Gang short comedy films when Hoskins was between twelve and eighteen months old. Roach had asked the father of Ernie “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, a black child actor in the series, to find a dark-skinned child actor with long hair to play Sammy's younger sister. Morrison returned with Hoskins; Roach liked the toddler immediately and felt that he could play either a boy or a girl because of his long braids. Initially, the studios remained vague about Farina's gender in the earliest Our Gang shorts he sometimes wore dresses and at other times pants After several films his character Farina was established as Sunshine Sammy and ...

Article

Gerard Fergerson

physician, was born near Eatontown, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Johnson and Martha A. Frazier. Before moving to New York, where he would spend his entire professional career, Peter attended Roger Smith High School in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing additional studies at Clark's Collegiate Institute in New York, Johnson enrolled at the Long Island College Hospital (a precursor to the College of Medicine of the State University of New York Health Science Center of Brooklyn), a reputable private institution. On his graduation from the Brooklyn medical school in 1882, Johnson became the fifth black graduate of the institution, forty-five years after the first African American to earn a professional degree in medicine, James McCune Smith, had earned his degree in Scotland. Johnson initially practiced medicine in New York under the guidance of David K. McDonough a physician who had been born a slave ...

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Eugene H. Conner

physician and civil rights activist, was born near Shelby, Cleveland County, North Carolina, the son of John Carpenter Lattimore and Marcella Hambrick, former slaves and farmers. Lattimore graduated from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an AB in 1897. He then attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving his MD in 1901. With a fellow classmate, H. B. Beck, as a partner, he began the general practice of medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. After considerable effort, his practice grew. In 1928 he married Naomi Anthony of Louisville; they had no children.

To provide better care for his patients Lattimore established the Lattimore Clinic in Louisville This effort marked the beginning of a professional lifetime devoted to improving medical care for the black community and presaged similar efforts for improving public health measures hospital care and educational opportunities for blacks Lattimore served in the Louisville ...

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Olivia A. Scriven

deputy and acting U.S. surgeon general, college president, and advocate for minority, women, and children's health, was born Audrey Elaine Forbes, the eldest of three girls born to Jesse Lee Forbes, a tailor, and Ora Lee Buckhalter, a machine operator and seamstress, in Jackson, Mississippi. As a child Forbes picked cotton in the fields of Tougaloo and watched her mother suffer from mental illness. By the time she was twelve she knew she wanted to become a physician but was told “poor girls, especially poor Black girls from Mississippi, don't become doctors” (Oxygen, 2001).

Undaunted, Forbes held onto her dreams, even after she and her two younger sisters, Yvonne and Barbara were left with their grandparents as their mother and father searched for work in Chicago Forbes settled in taking upper level math and science classes in junior ...

Article

E. Beardsley

physician and professional leader, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, the orphaned son of unknown parents. As with many African Americans of the post–Civil War era, it was Reconstruction that gave McClennan a chance at a larger life. In 1872, at the height of Reconstruction in South Carolina (and thanks to the influence of a guardian uncle), he became a page in the black-dominated state senate. There he won the notice and friendship of the influential legislator Richard H. “Daddy” Cain. That fall Cain ran successfully for Congress, and in 1873, after McClennan passed a competitive examination, Cain appointed his young protégé to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Only the second African American student to enter Annapolis McClennan who was light skinned enough to pass for white but never denied his race found that the navy had made no accommodation to the new racial ...

Article

Billy Scott

physician, was born in Americus, Georgia, the son of Dennis Smith, a laborer, and Mollie Daniels. Smith came from a poor family, and he worked hard during his youth at a variety of menial jobs—including as a service industry employee, a domestic, an office worker, and a railroad employee—to help support himself and his parents. He received his elementary and secondary education at the Americus Institute, then in 1906 he began studies at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he earned a BS in 1910. During the summers he worked as a bookkeeper and a butcher in the city markets of Americus.

Smith attended Leonard Medical College of Shaw University from 1910 to 1914 and received an MD in 1914 from the University of West Tennessee College of Medicine and Surgery. He earned a graduate degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1916 ...