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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

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

Richard M. Mizelle and Keith Wailoo

physician, scholar, and U.S. surgeon general, was born in Anniston, Alabama, the son of Anna and Wilmer Satcher, a foundry worker. Although neither parent had completed elementary school, they instilled in Satcher a high regard for scholarly accomplishment and perseverance amid segregation. A childhood bout with whooping cough and pneumonia began his long and fruitful interest in medical research and health, particularly with regard to the health of minority and disadvantaged groups. He often recalled that his own difficulty in getting health care and gaining access to hospitals as well as his experience of “people dying at home” led him into medicine “with the view that I wanted to be like the physician who came out to the farm to see me, and I wanted to make a difference for people who didn't have access to care” (NewsHour: A NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript, 21 ...