Twice as Hard: The Stories of Black Women Who Fought to Become Physicians, from the Civil War to the 21st Century
Black women physicians’ stories have gone untold for far too long, leaving gaping holes in American medical history, in women’s history, and in black history. It’s time to set the record straight.
No real account of black women physicians in the US exists, and what little mention is made of these women in existing histories is often insubstantial or altogether incorrect. In this work of extensive research, Jasmine Brown offers a rich new perspective, penning the long-erased stories of nine pioneering black women physicians beginning in 1860, when a black woman first entered medical school. Brown champions these black women physicians, including the stories of:
· Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who graduated from medical school only fourteen months after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and provided medical care for the newly freed slaves who had been neglected and exploited by the medical system.
· Dr. Edith Irby Jones, the first African American to attend a previously white-only medical school in the Jim Crow South, where she was not allowed to eat lunch with her classmates or use the women’s bathroom. Still, Dr. Irby Jones persisted and graduated from medical school, going on to directly inspire other black women to pursue medicine such as . . .
· Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who, after meeting Dr. Irby Jones, changed her career ambitions from becoming a Dillard’s salesclerk to becoming a doctor. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Dr. Elders as the US surgeon general, making her the first African American and second woman to hold this position.
Brown tells the stories of these doctors from the perspective of a black woman in medicine. Her journey as a medical student already has parallels to those of black women who entered medicine generations before her. What she uncovers about these women’s struggles, their need to work twice as hard and be twice as good, and their ultimate success serves as instruction and inspiration for new generations considering a career in medicine or science.
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