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Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

María Teresa Cortés Zavala

(who during the regime change in Puerto Rico in 1898 led the Republican Party), was born on 7 September or 27 July 1857 in the town of Bayamón, located in the north central area of the island of Puerto Rico. Celso Barbosa was the eldest son of Hermógenes Barbosa, a bricklayer, and Carmen Alcalá. The Barbosa family was part of a wave of immigration to Puerto Rico in the first half of the nineteenth century. Hermógenes Barbosa was descended from a group of Dominican exiles who left Santo Domingo during the Franco-Haitian occupation. They were black people who were artisans, farmers, and ranchers. His mother, although born on the island, belonged to a second generation of Venezuelans living in Puerto Rico who witnessed their economic situation diminish, and were compelled to express their reformist position at a time of economic and political crisis.

The Barbosa Alcalá family was part of ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Billy Scott

physician, otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist), inventor, and administrator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George W. Barnes, a laborer, and Eliza Webb Barnes and his two sisters lived poverty stricken lives on Lombard Street in a very poor area of the city Barnes decided at an early age to become a physician a decision unheard of and regarded in his neighborhood as preposterous His parents tried to discourage him from pursuing what to them seemed an impossible dream for a poor black youth hoping rather that he would focus on finding realistic employment Nevertheless determined Barnes walked ten miles every day to and from school and from his after school work as a porter and messenger for jewelry shops During summers he worked as a porter in hotels Seeing those who lived a far different and more elegant life than his own inspired ...

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Félix Ojeda Reyes

was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on 8 April 1827 to Felipe Betances Ponce, of Dominican origin, and María del Carmen Alacán, of Puerto Rican origin, the well-off owners of a sugar plantation called Hacienda Carmen. On 21 April he was baptized and registered by church officials in the Book of Mulattoes. Shortly after his mother’s death on 10 February 1837, Betances’s father sent him to Grisolles, near Toulouse, in the southwest of France. Under the care of the Prévost-Cavallieri family, Betances, always an excellent student, studied at the Collége Royal in Toulouse. In 1848 the year of the revolutions that toppled absolutist supremacy in Europe he entered the College of Medicine at the University of Paris At that historic moment Betances commenced a lifetime of political engagement and activity by participating in the antimonarchist revolution of 24 February which established the Second French Republic Although his ...

Article

Shari Rudavsky

Austin Maurice Curtis was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Alexander Curtis and Eleanora Patilla Smith. One of nine children, Curtis attended the Raleigh public schools and went north to college, graduating from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1888. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University in 1891 and became the first intern hired by Chicago's fledgling Provident Hospital. The first voluntary black hospital, Provident opened the doors of its two-story frame building a few months before Curtis started his internship. Provident Hospital boasted an interracial medical staff as well as the first training school for black nurses. There Curtis formed alliances with two individuals who would influence the rest of his life. The first was Daniel Hale Williams a renowned black physician and one of the founders of Provident Hospital who hired Curtis for the Provident internship The second was seventeen ...

Article

William K. Beatty

Ulysses Grant Dailey was born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, the son of Tony Hanna Dailey, a bartender, and Missouri Johnson, a teacher. His parents were then living in Fort Worth, Texas; Mrs. Dailey had returned to her mother's home to give birth. The Daileys visited Chicago, Illinois, several times, and Grant (as he preferred to be called) had some of his early schooling there. He was also educated in Donaldsonville, in the preparatory academy at Straight College (later Dillard University) in New Orleans, and at the Fort Worth High School. Brought up by his mother (the couple separated after a few years) in an atmosphere of books and music, Grant became a piano player.

While a student in Fort Worth, Dailey became the office boy for Ernest L. Stephens who was white a practicing physician and professor of materia medica in the medical department of ...

Article

William K. Beatty

surgeon, was born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, the son of Tony Hanna Dailey, a bartender, and Missouri Johnson, a teacher. His parents were then living in Fort Worth, Texas; Mrs. Dailey had returned to her mother's home to give birth. The Daileys visited Chicago, Illinois, several times, and Grant (as he preferred to be called) had some of his early schooling there. He was also educated in Donaldsonville, in the preparatory academy at Straight College (later Dillard University) in New Orleans, and at the Fort Worth High School. Brought up by his mother (the couple separated after a few years) in an atmosphere of books and music, Grant became a piano player.

As a student in Fort Worth, Dailey became the office assistant for Ernest L. Stephens, a white physician and professor of materia medica in the medical department of Fort Worth University. Impressed by Dailey s ...

Article

Joann Buckley and W. Douglas Fisher

National Guard Brigadier General, regimental surgeon, and US Army Captain,was one of seven children born to Levi and Rebecca Gill Dawson in Athens, Georgia.

Dawson's father was a barber and his mother a seamstress, hardworking people who believed in the value of education. Julian and his siblings attended the local public school. He was not the only child to star in his chosen field. His brother William graduated from Fisk University in Nashville and then law school at Northwestern University. William Dawson practiced law in Chicago before ultimately serving in the US House of Representatives from 1943 until his death in 1970.

After his own graduation from Fisk about 1910, Julian graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1914. He then entered general practice in Illinois at Jacksonville and then Galesburg.

Dawson joined the Medical Officers Reserve Corps, US Army, in 1916 and ...

Article

Elizabeth D. Schafer

physician, was born in Camden, South Carolina, the son of Eugene Heriot Dibble and Sally Lee. He graduated from Atlanta University in 1915 and earned his medical degree at Howard University Medical College four years later. After a one-year internship at the Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C., Dibble accepted a surgical residency at the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama.

At that time, medical care for southern blacks was limited and often inferior. Dibble realized the urgent need for more black physicians to provide adequate health care. As assistant medical director of the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital, he helped organize the first postgraduate course in surgery for southern black physicians.

By 1923 Dibble had become the chief of the surgical section of the newly established Veterans Administration hospital in Tuskegee The large number of black World War I veterans created an acute medical demand and ...

Article

Spencie Love

Born in Washington, D.C., Charles Drew graduated from McGill University Medical School in Montreal in 1933, ranking second in a class of 137. During a two-year fellowship at Columbia University's medical school (1938–1940), he did research on blood banking, setting up Presbyterian Hospital's first blood bank, and became the first African American to receive the doctor of science degree. Drew served as medical director of the Blood for Britain Project in 1940 and also of a 1941 American Red Cross pilot project involving the mass production of dried plasma. Drew's work proved pivotal to the success of the Red Cross's blood-collection program, a major life-saving agent during World War II. In 1941 Drew became chairman of Howard University's department of surgery and chief surgeon at Freedmen's Hospital, where he worked tirelessly to build Howard's surgical residency program. Between 1941 and 1950 he trained more than half ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Charles Richard Drew became interested in studying blood as a student at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada, during the late 1920s and early 1930s. At that time, medical science had not yet determined how to preserve blood, a dilemma that became Drew's mission. Later, while interning at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, New York, and pursuing a doctorate at Columbia University, Drew discovered that blood plasma, the liquid portion of the blood without cells, can be preserved for long periods of time, unlike whole blood, which deteriorates after a few days in storage. He also found that blood plasma can be substituted for whole blood in transfusions.

In the late 1930s Drew set up an experimental blood bank at Presbyterian Hospital and wrote a thesis entitled “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation,” which earned him a doctor of science in medicine from Columbia University in 1940 ...

Article

Spencie Love

blood plasma scientist, surgeon, and teacher, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Richard Thomas Drew, a carpet-layer, and Nora Rosella Burrell. Drew adored his hard-working parents and was determined from an early age to emulate them. Drew's parents surrounded their children with the many opportunities available in Washington's growing middle-class black community: excellent segregated schools, solid church and social affiliations, and their own strong example. Drew's father was the sole black member of his union and served as its financial secretary.

Drew graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1922 and received a medal for best all around athletic performance he also won a scholarship to Amherst College At Amherst he was a star in football and track earning honorable mention as an All American halfback in the eastern division receiving the Howard Hill Mossman Trophy for bringing the greatest athletic ...

Article

Sandra D. Harvey

physician who pioneered the preservation of plasma, the development of the dry plasma technique, and the use of plasma in blood transfusions.

Born in Washington, D.C., to Richard Thomas Drew, a carpet-layer, and Nora Rosella Burrell Drew, a Howard University graduate, Drew grew up in a middle-class community. Known as the “center of black aristocracy,” Washington offered Drew and his family many social and educational opportunities. Drew attended the best segregated college preparatory school in the nation, Dunbar High School. In 1922 he entered Amherst College on an academic scholarship, and in 1926 he graduated a celebrated athlete and scholar.

Lack of funds delayed Drew's entry into medical school. In the interim, he coached and taught biology at Morgan College in Baltimore. In 1928 he enrolled in McGill University's medical school in Montreal; he graduated in 1933 At McGill he began his research in blood chemistry but Joseph his ...

Article

Tom J. Ward

physician and businessman, was born in New Roads, Louisiana, the second of the seven children of George Frederick and Armantine (maiden name unknown) of Point Coupeé Parish, Louisiana. Frederick received his early education at the plantation school run by the wife of Louis F. Drouillard, the landlord for whom his parents were sharecroppers. In 1890 Frederick left Point Coupeé for New Orleans, where he enrolled at Straight University. He graduated in 1894, then enrolled at the New Orleans Medical College. Because he would not have been able to study in any of the city's hospitals because of his race, Frederick did not complete his medical education in New Orleans; instead, he left for Chicago in 1896 and enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons In Chicago he had the benefit of clinical training at Cook County Hospital Frederick received his MD from the College of ...

Article

E. Renée Ingram

physician and surgeon who specialized in pulmonary medicine, was born in Lexington, Davidson County, North Carolina. He was the son of Henry M. and Laura Hargrave, farmers, and one of fourteen children; he attended local public schools in Lexington before attending the state normal school in Salisbury, North Carolina. Hargrave received a BS from Shaw University in 1901 and an MD from Leonard Medical School. Founded in 1885, Leonard Medical School was one of the first medical schools in the United States to have a four-year curriculum. It also was the first four-year medical school to train African American doctors and pharmacists in the South. Hargrave practiced medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from 1901 to 1903 before relocating his private medical practice to Wilson, North Carolina, where he practiced from 1903 to 1924 and established the Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home. Hargrave married Bessie E Parker ...

Article

Elvatrice Parker Belsches

physician, surgeon, hospital administrator and founder, author, and medical organizational leader, was born at Redmonds, near Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, Virginia. Kenney was the second of three children born to the ex-slaves John A. and Caroline Howard Kenney. The elder Kenney was a farmer, storekeeper, community leader, and owner of a forty-acre farm. According to unpublished autobiographical sketches in the Kenney Papers, Kenney's parents could not read or write during his youth; however, they were determined that their children would be educated. Kenney's father spearheaded building across the road from his country store a one-room log house, which became the community's first country day school for black children. In addition to school and working in his father's store, Kenney learned all the intricacies of farming, from planting to sales.

The Kenneys experienced a grave loss when John was about fourteen His father who according ...

Article

Clarence G. Williams

plastic surgeon, biomedical engineer, and educator, was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the son of Leonard Powell Lee, a physician, and Jean Maurice Langston, a visual artist. His father had grown up in rural coastal South Carolina, part of a large family in which he and all his siblings, despite the limited opportunities available, earned higher degrees and went into either teaching or medicine. His mother came from a line of successful entrepreneurs with real estate interests in and near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

As South Carolina's public schools remained racially segregated until 1963, Lee's parents enrolled him in a private Roman Catholic “mission” elementary and middle school for blacks. In the fall of 1963 he was among the first group of blacks to enter St Jude High School in Sumter he remained there for two years before attending Bishop England High ...

Article

Donna M. Abruzzese

physician, surgeon, and civil rights activist, was born on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, one of five children born to Warren and Adele Logan. Warren Logan, treasurer of Tuskegee Institute, had begun working as an educator at the Institute when it was established in 1882. Logan remembered an early childhood in bucolic surroundings where he sometimes spent summer days at the side of Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute.

At the age of ten Logan was sent to New York City to live in Harlem with an older sister and attend the Ethical Culture School on a scholarship. In the 1920s New York City offered blacks a broader spectrum of opportunities than was possible in Alabama. The Ethical Culture School, founded by Felix Adler in 1878 was open to children of all races and religions Adler was ...

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Morgan Taggart-Hampton and Susan Bell

physician, surgeon, and medical researcher, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, the youngest daughter of Adella Hunt Logan and Warren Logan, well-respected members of black Alabama society and teachers at the Tuskegee Institute. Her father was one of the first people appointed to the Tuskegee Institute by Booker T. Washington in 1882; Warren Logan was also its treasurer and member of the Board of Trustees. After her retirement from Tuskegee in 1888, her mother, Adella Logan, became an avid suffragist and women's rights activist.

Myra Logan grew up on the Tuskegee campus, attended Tuskegee High School, and graduated with honors in 1923. She was the valedictorian of her class at Atlanta University, where she graduated in 1927. She earned a Master's in Psychology from Columbia University before attending New York Medical College. Encouraged by her brother-in-law, Dr. Eugene Percy Roberts a well ...