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Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

David McBride

physician and public service and church activist, was born Leonidas Harris Berry on a tobacco farm in Woodsdale, North Carolina, the son of the Reverend Llewellyn Longfellow Berry, general secretary of the Department of Home and Foreign Missions of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and Beulah Harris. Leonidas acquired the desire to become a doctor at the age of five, when a distinguished‐looking local doctor treated a small wound on his foot. The young boy was impressed by this “miraculous” event. His aspiration to go to medical school intensified while he was attending Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1924 Berry graduated from Wilberforce University and went on to obtain the SB in 1925 from the University of Chicago. In 1930 he also received his medical degree from the University of Chicago s Rush Medical College Berry continued his medical training earning an MS ...

Article

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Nathaniel Calloway was a man of many talents. He started his career as a chemist, graduating from Iowa State University (then College) in 1930 and earning his Ph.D. in 1933. After publishing influential research and teaching at both Tuskegee Institute and Fisk University, Calloway decided to enter medical school. In 1940 he enrolled at the University of Chicago, but, denied the opportunity to treat white patients, he transferred to the University of Illinois, from which he received his M.D. in 1943.

After World War II (1939–1945)—during which he conducted research on recuperation theories—Calloway worked at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, ultimately becoming its director. In 1949 he founded an all-black group practice, and throughout the next fifteen years he combined his medical work with civil rights activism. From 1955 to 1960 Calloway served as president of the Chicago ...

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Dennis C. Dickerson

physician and political activist, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of George E. Cannon and Genevieve Wilkinson. His father was a prominent and politically connected physician who graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the New York Homeopathic Medical College. His mother, a teacher, was descended from a leading Washington, D.C., family that had been free before the Civil War. Cannon and his sister, Gladys, grew up in an eighteen-room red brick house on a main Jersey City thoroughfare where their parents regularly received a retinue of prestigious visitors, including Booker T. Washington, numerous doctors from the all-black National Medical Association, and several Republican Party officeholders. Cannon greatly admired his father and emulated his professional and political involvements.

At his father s alma mater Lincoln University a Presbyterian institution Cannon performed acceptably but without academic distinction He scored well enough in his premedical courses however ...

Article

Togarma Rodriguez

was born on 6 July 1919 in San Pedro de Macorís to Eduardo Maturino Charles and Alicia Dunlop. At the age of 21, he married Luz del Carmen Vizcaino, his wife until his death sixty-seven years later. The couple had six children: Carmen Mireya, Nelson Eduardo, Eduardo Aníbal, Mirtha Gladys, Minerva, and Altagracia.

He completed his secondary education at Santo Domingo’s old Escuela Normal and later enrolled in the Universidad de Santo Domingo, where in 1946 he graduated with a medical degree as part of a larger cadre of talented peers who were responsible for the advancement of medical sciences in the Dominican Republic. Among them were Mariano Lebrón Saviñón, Mario Fernández Mena, Simón Hoffiz, Adolfo Pérez González, Juan Read Encarnación, Julio César García, Napoleón Perdomo, and Jaime Acosta Torres.

Charles Dunlop believed in serving his people and making his medical skills available to every Dominican irrespective of means He ...

Article

Susan Shifrin

was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the only child of William Lafayette Chinn, a slave who had escaped to freedom at the age of eleven from the Chinn (Cheyne) plantation in Virginia, and his wife, Lula Ann Evans, who was born on a Chickahominy Indian reservation near Norfolk, Virginia.

When May was three years old her family moved to New York Her mother wishing to protect her from the distress caused by her father s alcoholism and determined that her daughter would receive a good education sent her at the age of five or six to boarding school at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School Forced to leave school when she developed osteomyelitis May went to live with her mother on the estate of the Tiffanys the wealthy white family famed for its retail line of jewelry silver and china Although her mother was working for ...

Article

Donna Christian-Christensen, who was formerly known while in office as Donna Christian-Green, comes from a family of public servants. Her father, Almeric L. Christian, was a Virgin Islands chief district court judge, and her paternal grandmother, Elena L. Christian, was an educator in the Virgin Islands. Christian-Christensen graduated with a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College in Indiana and earned a medical degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After a medical career of more than twenty years, she entered politics as vice chairperson of the U.S. Virgin Islands Democratic Territorial Committee in 1980. She subsequently served on the U.S. Virgin Islands Board of Education and the U.S. Virgin Islands Status Commission. In 1996 Christian-Christensen became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was reelected in subsequent elections.

Article

Miguel Gonzalez Perez

was born in Bilwaskarma, in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region, on 10 November 1947. She is best known for the leading role she played in promoting the peace negotiation process that in 1986 ended a ten-year military conflict that pitted the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or Sandinista National Liberation Front) revolutionary government against the Miskito indigenous rebels who were struggling for autonomy along the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast. She is also an international advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Cunningham grew up in Waspam the capital city of the Wangki River region near the border with Honduras which is considered the motherland of the Miskito people She was born to Nester Judith Kain Nelson and Wilfred Bill Cunningham Davis both from Pearl Lagoon on the southern part of the Caribbean coast She grew up in a working class family of mixed cultural heritage of Miskito African and ...

Article

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

Dawne Y. Curry

On 8 September 1993, Bill Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States, selected Joycelyn Elders as the nation’s surgeon general of the Public Health Service. In this capacity, Elders argued for legislation supporting universal health coverage and advocated on behalf of President Clinton’s health care reform effort. While Elders lobbied for comprehensive health education, she also supported sex education in secondary schools. Her rather blunt opinions, especially concerning masturbation and safe sex, earned her the nickname “Condom Queen.” In 1994, after fifteen months of service, she resigned from this appointment. Elders returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center, where she had previously served as a professor of pediatrics.

Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones in Schaal, Arkansas. Her mother, Haller, and her father, Curtis Jones were sharecroppers subject to the appalling poverty and exploitation of that position in the South Minnie the oldest ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

physician and U.S. surgeon general from 1993 to 1994. Born in rural Arkansas to sharecropper parents, Minnie Lee Jones received a scholarship to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock at the age of fifteen. While in college she added “Joycelyn” to her name and ultimately used only that. After receiving a degree in biology in 1952, she worked briefly in a Veterans Administration hospital and then in 1953 enlisted in the U.S. Army, where she received training as a physical therapist.

After leaving the army in 1956, Jones attended the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) and received her MD in 1960. Also in 1960 she married Oliver Elders, with whom she had two sons. In 1967 she earned a master of science degree in biochemistry and also joined the faculty of the UAMS in 1967, becoming a full professor in 1976 ...

Article

Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Joycelyn Jones in Schaal, a poor, remote farming village of southwestern Arkansas. Her parents, Haller and Curtis Jones, were sharecroppers, and all eight of their children—Joycelyn was the oldest—worked with them in the cotton fields. The family shared a three-room cabin with no electricity, and the children walked several miles to attend an all-black school. At the age of fifteen, Elders received a scholarship to Little Rock's Philander Smith College, also a school for blacks. There, she met a doctor for the first time in her life and Edith Jones, the first black woman to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS). Elders later credited these experiences with inspiring her to become a doctor.

Elders received a bachelor's degree in 1952 and spent the better part of the next two decades advancing in the medical profession First she served in the ...

Article

David Alan Rego

was born in Glasgow, Scotland, at St. Mary’s Hospital for Women, the same institution where his Jamaican-born mother was pursuing studies as a nurse-midwife. Upon completion of her studies in 1967, Carmen Fenton returned to Jamaica with her young son Kevin, reuniting with her husband, Sydney, a high school chemistry teacher and later principal at Kingston’s Excelsior High School. Kevin’s siblings are Peter, a physician; Kim, a mathematics lecturer; and Keisha, a business-woman.

Kevin Fenton attended high school at Wolmer’s Boys School in Kingston, Jamaica. After graduating from Wolmer’s, he enrolled at the University of the West Indies (UWI) as a computer science major, only to transfer to the Faculty of Medicine in 1985. He was elected class president in 1985 and 1986, and in 1987 he was elected vice president of the UWI Medical Student’s Association. Following graduation with honors from medical school in 1990 ...

Article

David Rego

physician, epidemiologist, and public health official in the United States and the United Kingdom, was born in Glasgow, Scotland at St. Mary's Hospital for Women, the same institution where his Jamaican-born mother was pursuing studies as a nurse-midwife. Upon completion of her studies in 1967, Carmen Fenton returned to Jamaica with her young son, Kevin, reuniting with her husband, Sydney, a high school chemistry teacher and later principal at Kingston's Excelsior High School. Kevin is the oldest of four children. His siblings are Peter, a physician; Kim, a mathematics lecturer; and Keisha, a businesswoman.

Kevin Fenton attended high school at Wolmer's Boys School in Kingston, Jamaica. After graduation from Wolmer's, he enrolled at the University of the West Indies (UWI) as a computer science major, only to transfer to the Faculty of Medicine in 1985. He was elected class president in 1985 and 1986 and ...

Article

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

Miriam Sawyer

Forsythe, Albert Edward (25 February 1897–04 May 1986), aviator and physician, was born in Nassau, the Bahamas, the son of Horatio Alexander Forsythe, a civil engineer, and Lillian Maud Byndloss Forsythe. When he was three, the family moved to Jamaica. His mother died of pneumonia while Forsythe was a child. His father soon remarried, eventually fathering thirteen children. The family was comfortably middle class, employing several servants. A gifted student, Forsythe attended the Titchfield School, where he excelled in mathematics. When he was fourteen, the headmaster of the school recommended that he be sent to England to complete his education. His father preferred to send him to Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, an institution founded by Booker T. Washington to educate African Americans.

Arriving in the United States Forsythe was met in Miami by relatives who cautioned him about segregation in the South Blacks could not use ...

Article

was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, on 17 February 1920. He was the eldest of two children. His father was a building contractor. He attended Combermere School in St. Michael, Barbados, where he obtained a classics-based education including Latin, Greek, and English literature at which he excelled. It was later, while working in a chemist’s shop, that Franklin applied to study medicine in England. Barbados was still a British colony, and it would have been a more obvious choice to study in the United Kingdom than at an American university.

As he studied no sciences at school in Barbados, Franklin had to spend a preliminary year at Chelsea Polytechnic in London studying biology, chemistry, and physics before taking his place at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School in October 1941 During World War II Franklin like most London based medical students at this time helped out with air raid casualties ...

Article

Candace M. Keller

Malian government minister, physician, novelist, poet, and political activist, was born in Koulikoro, Mali. By 1936 Gologo had entered the École Régionale de Bamako in the capital city and, at the age of fourteen, had enrolled at the famous high school École Terrasson de Fougères. In 1941 he moved to Senegal to continue his education at the École Normale William Ponty. Seven years later he was conscripted into the Tirailleurs Sénégalais and received his doctoral degree in medicine from the École de Médecine de Dakar. The following year he was released from military service to practice medicine for the administration in Mali—first in Bamako and later in Kati, Sikasso, Douentza, and Gourma-Rharous.

In 1953 Gologo was employed as a physician for the Office du Niger While there he organized workers to join labor unions under the Union Soudanais US a branch of the pan French West African political organ ...

Article

Herbert Stern

was born in Santo Domingo to Ulises Heureaux (1845–1899), president of the Dominican Republic, and Rosa Pons Rodriguez, the daughter of a physician, Eusebio Pons. As her parents did not marry, Heureaux’s birth was not listed in the official records from the time. Consequently, it is not clear exactly when she was born, although scholars generally agree on the year 1887. After Evangelina Rodriguez Perozo, Heureaux was the second Dominican woman to receive a medical degree, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Santo Domingo on 1 April 1922.

Heureaux completed her training as a free student meaning a student not obligated to attend lectures only to pass the necessary exams At that time the university was closed and the institution that supervised her examinations was the Instituto Profesional During her studies she interned at the Hospital Militar Military Hospital ...

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Frédéric Grah Mel

first president of the Ivory Coast, was born in Yamoussoukro, the country’s current political capital. His father was an unknown gold washer whose name, Houphouët, means “filth.” In the Baoulé tribe, this type of name is given to the widower of a woman who has lost several children in the hope that death will not be interested in a piece of rubbish. Through his mother he was descended from a family of traditional chiefs. The name Boigny comes from his mother’s family and means “ram.” In December 1945, when he was going to Paris for the first time as a member of the French Parliament, he announced that he would be henceforth Houphouët-Boigny, which meant that he would be a fighting deputy.

Houphouët’s official date of birth is 18 October 1905 but it is a date that has been entirely constructed Soothsayers consulted before his birth predicted that ...