Presented by Tom Ward, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Spring Hill College
In 1912, the National Medical Association—the African-American counterpart to the American Medical Association—held its annual meeting at Tuskegee Institute. As part of the meeting, a clinic was conducted at the school’s John A. Andrew Hospital. Organized and directed by the school’s physician, Dr. John Kenney, the initial purpose of the clinic was to promote public health in the African-American community, which often lacked access to adequate health facilities and care. Over 400 persons attended the first clinic, with physicians conducting 36 operations. In addition to promoting and providing healthcare for rural black Alabamians, the clinics, which were held annually until 1969, evolved into the single most important venue for most Southern black physicians to receive continuing education. Excluded from most post-graduate training courses because of their race, African-American physicians therefore founded their own clinic at Tuskegee in order to keep abreast of medical developments and procedures. Over the years, some of the most prominent physicians and surgeons in the nation—both black and white—performed at the Andrew Clinic to the benefit of both the attending doctors and thousands of patients who received free treatment.
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