Friday, October 8, 2010
6:59 AM | Edit Post
|Dr NB Houser|
How did a black person become a doctor in 19th century Arkansas? Where could you get an education? Where could you practice medicine? Who would be your patients?
The Medical School in Arkansas didn't admit blacks until the late 1940s. So African Americans seeking a medical education went outside of the state for training.MeHarry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee was the closest although Howard University was arguably the most prestigious institution for African Americans.
|Dr. Fred Thomas Jones, Sr|
Jack Banks, a North Carolina native, practiced medicine in Little Rock in the early 1870s and is the earliest known black physician in the city. By 1895, all five of Little Rock’s black medical professionals held diplomas from Meharry Medical School - George W. Hayman, Henry S. Berry, Warren J. E. Bruce, Hayward W. Suggs, and W. L. Taylor.
Despite their education and training, black medical professionals still faced racism. Dr. Fred T. Jones (1877-1938), a Little Rock physician, 1905 Meharry Medical School graduate, and founder of Great Southern Hospital in Little Rock (1919) and Pine Bluff (1932) wrote:
Regardless of all unjust discrimination of today, the time will come & fastly approaching when man will be judged by his actual worth, not by the amount of pigment which nature has deposited beneath his derma vera. This is our refining age and we must go thru the hot fires of nature’s refining process—All true Gold will come out but the brighter.
|Dr. D E J Johnson|
African Americans who become doctors faced many obstacles to success. Once black physicians obtained their degrees, they faced reluctance within the black community to accept their services. After generations of slave life and the indoctrination that black people were inferior to whites, many freedmen and freedwomen had only received medical care from white physicians brought in by the slave master because it was in the slave master's economic interest.
After the end of slavery, many white doctors promoted the beliefs that black doctors were inferior because they saw black doctors as a threat to their businesses. Many white medical societies barred black doctors from joining and hospitals prevented blacks from practicing in their facilities. Black physicians, faced with the challenges of a racist society that barred them from facilities and organizations, and a lack of public confidence from the black community, often charged lower rates than white doctors, and contracted with fraternal organizations and insurance companies.