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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 ...

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

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 ...