Exhibit at Shiffman explores rich history of African-Americans at the School of Medicine

February 08, 2016

“Celebrating Diversity: A History of African-Americans at the Wayne State University School of Medicine” explores the rich history and the significant contributions of African-Americans during the school of medicine’s 148-year history. The exhibit will be displayed in the atrium of the Shiffman Medical Library during February, Black History Month.

“The Wayne State University School of Medicine has a rich and diverse history,” said Anita Moncrease, M.D., clinical associate professor of Pediatrics and a Class of 1984 graduate of the School of Medicine. “This exhibit tells the story of the important role the school played -- and continues to play -- in educating African-American physicians.”

The exhibit includes timeline of African-Americans’ involvement with the School of Medicine. Some points along that timeline include:

* The 1869 graduation of Joseph Ferguson, M.D., who graduated from the Detroit Medical College in 1869 and became the first African-American in Detroit -- and most likely in Michigan -- to earn a medical degree.

* The 1893 graduation of Albert Henry Johnson, M.D., the third African-American graduate of the Detroit College of Medicine. Dr. Johnson was one of the founders of Dunbar Hospital, the first African-American non-profit hospital in Detroit.

* In 1926 Chester Cole Ames, M.D., graduated from the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery. He was the first African-American to obtain an internship in urology at a white hospital in Detroit, but he was never allowed on staff. He was Detroit’s first African-American intern, resident and member of the Wayne University medical faculty. He cofounded three African-American hospitals in Detroit, but was never granted hospital privileges to practice his specialty.

* In 1943 Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D., graduated from Wayne University College of Medicine, the school’s first African-American female graduate. She became the first African-American female resident and chief resident at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

* In 1960 African-American physicians Thomas Flake Sr., M.D., Class of 1951; Addison Prince, M.D.; William Gibson, M.D.; and James Collins, M.D., were appointed to the staff at Harper Hospital staff, thereby integrating the Detroit Medical Center hospital staff.

“The personal stories of Drs. Joseph Ferguson, Marjorie Pebbles-Meyers and Charles Whitten are very interesting,” Dr. Moncrease said. “Their contributions to medicine in the face of racism, segregation and discrimination are lessons that everyone can learn from.”