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Deborah I. Levine

physician, scientist, professor, public health official, and first African American surgeon general of the United States, was born Minnie Lee Jones in the small town of Schaal, Arkansas, the oldest of eight children of Curtis Jones, a sharecropper, and Haller Reed Jones. As a child, Jones performed the hard labor demanded of Arkansas farmers and their families, and she often led her younger siblings in their work on the small cotton farm. The family home was an unpainted three-room shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, and there was no hospital or physician for miles around. Jones watched her mother give birth seven times without medical assistance; the only memory she has of a visit to a physician was when her father took a gravely ill younger brother twelve miles by mule to the nearest doctor.

Haller Jones was determined that her children would ...

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 ...

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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 ...