Three famous African-American medical doctors are Daniel Hale Williams, James McCune Smith and Dorothy Celeste Ferebee. Williams performed one of the first open heart surgeries in the United States, Smith was the first African-American man to earn a physician's degree, and Ferebee worked to get healthcare to poor families, such as sharecroppers.Continue Reading
Williams was born in 1856 and opened the first medical facility to employ people of multiple races, called Provident Hospital. He encouraged sterilization within the hospital to prevent cross-contamination, and he saved James Cornish in 1893 by performing open heart surgery after Cornish was stabbed in the chest.
Smith lived from 1813 to 1865 and owned a pharmacy in New York City. To get his degree, Smith left the United States and studied in Scotland, where the racial limitations were less severe. He was active in the early civil rights movement, giving lectures against slavery, and became a university professor before his death.
Born in 1898, Ferebee worked with rural communities and the civil rights movement to improve the lives of African-American individuals. She ran her own medical clinic and was the director of the medical services at Howard University. In 1949, she was named president of the National Council of Negro Women.Learn more about US History