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Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

pediatrician and pioneer in medical studies for African Americans, was born in New York City, the second daughter of Lionel and Hilda Burnett, who immigrated to the United States from Barbados in the 1920s. Her father obtained a position in the post office, and her mother was a seamstress. Her parents valued education for their children, so they moved from Manhattan to the Bronx, seeking neighborhoods that had the best schools for their girls. Carol was very bookish and spent much of her time in the public library. Because of her good academic record—she skipped a grade in elementary school—she was accepted into Hunter High School, a selective high school for girls. She was only one of four black girls in a class of thirty; this was the only time she had been in a predominantly white school, but her classmates all accepted her without discrimination.

When she graduated ...

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

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 ...