Doctors making history

Photo album page of famous black Dartmouth college alumni
A page from the online exhibit "Blacks @ Dartmouth: 1828 to 1860"

Before the Civil War and four decades ahead of other Ivy League colleges, Black men were entering Dartmouth to learn the practice of medicine.

So recounts the 2022 exhibit, "Blacks @ Dartmouth: 1828 to 1860", which was funded by the Dartmouth Class of 1968 and curated by Forrester "Woody" Lee, a Dartmouth 1968 alumnus.

Among those commemorated in the online exhibit are Dr. William Baldwin Ellis, one of 30 African Americans to serve as a physician during the Civil War.

After the war, Dr. Ellis reportedly worked at Freedman's Hospital in Washington D.C., the first U.S. public hospital for African Americans. Among his patients and friends were Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, whom he treated at the hospital after she was accosted by a white train conductor.

Former Geisel School of Medicine student Kenneth Williams '21 also provides this video biography of Dr. Ellis.

Another doctor in the Blacks @ Dartmouth commemoration is Dr. Samuel Ford McGill, the first person of African descent to graduate from a U.S. medical school. According to his biography in the exhibition, Dr. McGill was one of the few university graduates of African descent in the medical profession in the world when he graduated in 1839 from Dartmouth at the age of 26.

Notable alumni like these are not lost on Teresa Dean Malcolm, MD, FACOG, MBA, System Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), Dartmouth Health.

Community Impact Social Justice Award Nominations

If you are a Dartmouth Health employee, the Dartmouth Health BIPOC Employee Resource Group is seeking nominations for its Community Impact Social Justice Awards to be announced on Saturday, April 27.

The awards recognize and celebrate individuals who are actively engaged in social justice action and working toward the empowerment of marginalized people and communities.

Do you know a colleague who is committed to social justice and working toward creating a more equitable community? Please nominate them using our Community Impact Social Justice Awards Nomination form. The deadline for nominations is February 29.

"Among Dartmouth's medical alums are extraordinary individuals who have advanced medicine through their passion for research and clinical care. We all should commit to listening to the stories of Black people with empathy, adjusting our efforts and making a better way of life," she says, pointing to the recent City of Hope: Resurrection City, a Smithsonian poster exhibit sponsored by Dartmouth Health’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Employee Resource Group.

"But while we all want to receive compassionate care to live a healthy life, health disparities in the Black community are not new and still persist," she observes.

Included among Dartmouth Health's DEIB efforts are food drives to address food insecurity, monitoring and reporting of health equity data to improve organizational readiness, and membership in the Health Anchor Network (HAN), which builds programs to support a sustainable talent pipeline from economically disadvantaged geographies and that removes hiring barriers.

"It takes all of us," says Malcolm. "Progress is being made but we have a long way to go still."