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Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

pediatrician and pioneer in medical studies for African Americans, was born in New York City, the second daughter of Lionel and Hilda Burnett, who immigrated to the United States from Barbados in the 1920s. Her father obtained a position in the post office, and her mother was a seamstress. Her parents valued education for their children, so they moved from Manhattan to the Bronx, seeking neighborhoods that had the best schools for their girls. Carol was very bookish and spent much of her time in the public library. Because of her good academic record—she skipped a grade in elementary school—she was accepted into Hunter High School, a selective high school for girls. She was only one of four black girls in a class of thirty; this was the only time she had been in a predominantly white school, but her classmates all accepted her without discrimination.

When she graduated ...

Article

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

Modupe Labode

physician, was born Justina Laurena Warren in Knoxville, Illinois. Her parents were Melissa Brisco Warren and Pryor Warren; Melissa Warren's first marriage ended with the death of her husband, Ralph Alexander. When Justina was very young, the family moved to nearby Galesburg, Illinois. She was the seventh child in her family. Her mother was a nurse, which may have influenced Justina's early interest in medicine. Ford recalled that as a young girl she was so focused on becoming a doctor that she wove her passion for medicine into all of her activities. She played hospital, tended the ill, and even used her chores, such as dressing chickens, to study anatomy.

In December 1892 Justina Warren married the Fisk-educated Reverend John E. Ford. After her marriage, Justina Ford enrolled in Chicago's Hering Medical College, and graduated in 1899 She and her husband moved to Normal Alabama ...

Article

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

Rosalyn Mitchell Patterson

pediatrician, civil rights and community activist was born Otis Wesley Smith in Atlanta, Georgia, to Ralph Horatio Smith, a baker, and Gertrude Wyche Smith, a housekeeper. Smith's early life and his decision to become a physician were greatly influenced by the untimely death of his father following complications during surgery. Young Smith prayed for his father's recovery and promised he would become a physician for Atlanta's African American community.

Smith attended Booker T. Washington High School, the first public high school for African Americans in Atlanta. In high school Smith, an avid sports enthusiast, was only allowed to participate in boxing; however, his opportunities to participate in sports flourished when he entered Morehouse College as a freshman in 1943. He majored in biology and worked part time at the Butler Street Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) where he played basketball in the afternoon with Martin Luther ...