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Exhibit Honors Pioneering Black Physicians

To highlight the struggles of early African-American physicians in Texas, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) has unveiled a new exhibit “Courage and Determination — A Portrait of Pioneering African-American Physicians in Texas” in its History of Medicine Gallery in Austin.

The display follows the history of early pioneers such as Quinton Belvedre Neal, the first African-American to practice medicine in Texas in 1882 in Goliad, and Frank Bryant Jr., the first African-American to serve on TMAÂ’s governing body the House of Delegates in 1983. Some were born slaves, such as Franklin R. Robey, MD, of Houston. Some were the children of slaves, such as George M. Munchus, MD, of Fort Worth.

Maps, vintage images, and artifacts from the TMA archives and other libraries and collections fill 12 exhibit cases. A timeline traces key events starting in 1837 and continuing until 2009 when TMA elected its first African-American president, William H. Fleming III, MD, a neurologist in Houston.

Dr. Fleming worked with TMA staff to develop the title concept for the exhibit. He credits these pioneer African-American physicians with laying the groundwork for later generations.

“I stand on the shoulders of the African-American physicians who came before me, like Dr. Frank Bryant,” Dr. Fleming said.

“The stories of brave doctors in this exhibit fill me with humility and pride. But there is more to do. I hope these stories inspire more young African-American men and women to go into medicine.”

In the Jim Crow South, African-Americans could only attend those medical schools established for them – Howard and Meharry – or attend medical schools in another region. Hospitals in the Jim Crow South also were segregated by law and custom.

Segration had a profound impact on the health of minorities in the South. In 1900, the rate of tuberculosis mortality among African-Americans was three times greater than among whites.

In 1954, Texas had at least 138 African-American physicians. As of 2004, the Texas Medical Board reported 1,617 African-American physicians out of 40,373 total physicians in Texas.

TMA’s “Courage and Determination — A Portrait of Pioneering American-American Physicians in Texas” exhibit is the first-ever statewide effort to chronicle early African-American physicians in Texas. The History of Medicine gallery is free and open to the public between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays in the first-floor lobby of TMA at 401 W. 15th St. in downtown Austin. The exhibit will be in the gallery for one year. For more information or to arrange a tour, contact Betsy Tyson, (512) 370-1552 or betsy.tyson@texmed.org.

Exhibit highlights include:

A Texas map identifying cities with African-American physician practices in 1890, 1914, and 1954, depicting the movement from East to West Texas and from rural to more urban centers.
A photograph of the Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association annual meeting in Houston in 1909, the only known image of Mary Susan Moore, MD, of Galveston, the first-African American woman to practice medicine in Texas.
Images of black hospitals established as part of the national Black Hospital Movement, such as Hammond Hospital established in 1916 in Bryan, Houston Negro Hospital established in 1926, and Dickey Clinic established in 1935 in Taylor.
Images of the first African-Americans to graduate from Texas medical schools beginning with Herman Aladdin Barnett, III, MD, a 1953 graduate of The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and others in leadership roles for TMA and Texas medicine.
Images and biographies reflecting the courage and determination of more than 60 physicians from all regions of the state. Among them: Beadie Conner, MD, Austin; Lawrence A. Nixon, MD, El Paso; Joseph Chatman, MD, Lubbock; James Odis Wyatt, MD, Amarillo; Lee Gresham Pinkston, MD, Dallas; Viola J. Coleman, MD, Midland; Edith Irby Jones, MD, Houston; Mattice F. Harris, MD, Orange; Edwin D. Moten, MD, Denton; and Monroe A. Majors, MD, Waco, the first Texas-born medical school graduate.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 45,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMAÂ’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

 

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Contact: Pam Udall (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 413-6807; e-mail: pam.udall@texmed.org
Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; e-mail: brent.annear@texmed.org

 

 



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