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Explore rich history of black medical schools in exhibit at Shiffman Library

February 16, 2017

Celebrate diversity through an exploration of the black medical schools and departments that existed at one time in the United States, in “The Legacy of the Black Medical Schools and Departments in the United States 1868-1968,” on display Feb. 18 through March 4 in the Shiffman Medical Library Atrium.

The nation’s black medical schools and departments played a major role in addressing the physician workforce in America and bridging the gap in health disparities and health outcomes. Visit the exhibit, part of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s celebration of Black History Month, to learn about their rise and fall.

The history includes the story of Henry Fitzbutler, M.D., the founder and owner of the Louisville National Medical College in 1888. The son of an escaped slave, he completed his first year of medical training at the Detroit Medical College, the forerunner of the WSU School of Medicine, and graduated from the University of Michigan.

The WSU School of Medicine was founded in 1868 by four Civil War veteran physicians. At the same time, the first medical school in the county that was open to all people, Howard University Medical Department, opened in Washington, D.C., under the direction of Civil War veteran and Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau Gen. Oliver Howard. One year later, in 1869, the Detroit College of Medicine and Howard University graduated their first African-American physicians.

While Howard University and Meharry Medical College (founded in 1876) were the only two of 17 black medical schools to survive since their inception, the stories of the other schools will be told in the exhibit. Displays will explore their histories, as well as those of two newer black medical schools, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science (1966) and Morehouse School of Medicine (1975), which arose out of the flames of urban violence and the nation’s Civil Rights movement.

Anita Moncrease, M.D., M.P.H., ’84, and The Rev. Don Tynes, M.D., ’95, along with Dedra Seay-Scatliffe, M.S., administrative assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, set out in 2014 to discover the history and legacy of the black medical schools in the U.S. Dr. Moncrease and family members traveled the country in the summer of 2014 to visit the sites of these schools. Share in their journey by visiting the exhibit, and through noon lectures on Feb. 18 and 25.

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