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Diana Kristine Durham

physician, political activist, teacher, and reformer, was born in Charles City County, Virginia, to Alexander and Anna Franklin in a community known as Mattie Hunt near the banks of the Chickahominy River. Charles's father, Alexander Quincy Franklin, earned his living as a schoolteacher and a farmer and served as a representative in the Virginia legislature during the 1889–1890 session and as commissioner of revenue for Charles City County. Charles's mother, Anna Marion Brown, a housewife, was born into one of the oldest free, landowning African American families in Virginia. Charles was the second of nine children in a family of six boys and three girls.

From an early age Charles Sumner Franklin aspired to a career other than farming. He received his early education at Bullfield Academy, a one-room school in the Ruthville community. His maternal uncle, Daniel Webster Brown was his teacher ...


Sharon Leslie Morgan

medical pioneer and philanthropist who developed groundbreaking treatments for leprosy, syphilis, and cancer, was the eldest son of Dr. Alfred Lawless Jr. and Harriet Dunn. He was born on a farm in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, and with his siblings, Oscar and Helen, grew up in New Orleans.

His interest in medicine began when he was young, working as an assistant to a veterinarian. Lawless's father was a minister and a tireless advocate of civil rights and educational opportunity for African Americans. The Memorial Chapel at Dillard University and Lawless High School in New Orleans were both named in his honor. With such strong influence, it is little wonder that his eldest son, Theodore (known to friends and family as “T.K.”), would excel beyond all expectations. He earned a BA from Talladega College in 1914 and an MD (1919) and MA (1920 from Northwestern University after studying ...


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 ...


Thomas Long

a nurse, was born into slavery and given the name Jensey (also spelled “Gensey” in the public record) Snow. She later took the name Jane Minor after being manumitted by her Petersburg, Virginia, slaveowner Benjamin Harrison May and becoming married to Lewis Minor. She demonstrated extraordinary nursing skill, courage, and generosity, first in attending to the sick during a fever epidemic (which prompted May's decision to free her), then in using the money she earned subsequently to purchase and free over a dozen other slaves, and in creating a hospital in Petersburg. She also became the mother-in-law of Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a former resident of Petersburg, the African American who became the first president of Liberia.

As the historian Todd L. Savitt notes health care in the antebellum South consisted of a varied landscape of sometimes competing sometimes complementary models and methods of care Trained allopathic ...


Mary Krane Derr

physician and religious worker, was born Georgia Esther Lee Patton into slavery in mountainous Grundy County, southeast Tennessee, the youngest of her parents' many children. Little is known about her mother and father, both of whom were born into slavery in Tennessee. Georgia's mother was widowed while pregnant with her. When Georgia was two, the family settled nearby in Coffee County, where her mother took in laundry. The local school opened only a few weeks each year, if at all. Between her ninth and seventeenth years, Georgia's formal education totaled a mere twenty-six months.

When Georgia was sixteen her mother died and her siblings took over her care. They pooled their resources and sent her to Nashville's Central Tennessee College (later Walden University) in February 1882. However, she had to spend most of each year earning her living expenses instead of attending classes. By 1890 she completed ...


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 ...