Thesis ID: CBB359279927

The Newest Negroes: Black Doctors and the Desegregation of Harlem Hospital, 1919-1935 (2021)


This study examines the desegregation of Harlem Hospital between 1919 and 1935. Beginning with the appointment of Louis T. Wright, it chronicles the efforts of Harlem’s civic leaders to challenge New York City’s segregated hospital system and explores how the construct of the New Negro factored into their campaign. Although Wright’s initial appointment was not tied to civic activism, it inspired local medical societies, newspaper editors, labor organizations, political figures, and civic groups to call attention to acts of discrimination in the hospital, stressing the need for greater black inclusion. Their protests and negotiations brought substantive gains, leading to the opening of the nursing school and a handful of appointments for black doctors and interns. In 1930, a major administrative overhaul elevated Wright to the administrative board and brought numerous black practitioners onto the hospital staff. But, while the hospital’s ranks appeared open, intense debates began about its role in addressing the problem of race. Over the next five years, Harlem’s black medical community fractured over whether to transform the hospital into a cutting-edge integrated research facility or a separate institution dedicated to the training of black personnel. Bitter rivalries emerged between graduates of black and predominantly white medical schools, between local medical societies, and between the leadership of the National Medical Association and NAACP. While framed as ideological differences, these factions exposed underlying tensions harbored within the black medical community over the meaning of racial progress and the role medicine should play in advocating for racial equality. Rival factions asserted their legitimacy by presenting themselves as leading embodiments of the New Negro. More than a trope for artists of the Harlem Renaissance, the New Negro functioned within the black medical community as a standard for medical professionalism and model for black health. This study explores its role in the desegregation process and examines the various ways black doctors used it as a tool to address the problem of race through the practice of medicine.

Citation URI

This citation is part of the Isis database.

Similar Citations

Article Alicia D. Bonaparte; (2014)
“The Satisfactory Midwife Bag”: Midwifery Regulation in South Carolina, Past and Present Considerations (/p/isis/citation/CBB066016370/) unapi

Article Jacqueline Antonovich; (2021)
White Coats, White Hoods: The Medical Politics of the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s America (/p/isis/citation/CBB549673660/) unapi

Book Gabriel N. Mendes; (2015)
Under the Strain of Color: Harlem's Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry (/p/isis/citation/CBB251110528/) unapi

Book Anthony Ryan Hatch; (2016)
Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America (/p/isis/citation/CBB245142743/) unapi

Book Farber, Paul Lawrence; (2011)
Mixing Races: From Scientific Racism to Modern Evolutionary Ideas (/p/isis/citation/CBB001033410/) unapi

Book Jonathan M. Metzl; (2020)
Étouffer la révolte: La psychiatrie contre les Civils Rights, une histoire du contrôle social (/p/isis/citation/CBB840020850/) unapi

Book Mary Kaplan; (2016)
The Tuskegee Veterans Hospital and Its Black Physicians: The Early Years (/p/isis/citation/CBB160176192/) unapi

Article Washington, Harriet A.; Baker, Robert B.; Olakanmi, Ololade; Savitt, Todd L.; Jacobs, Elizabeth A.; Hoover, Eddie; Wynia, Matthew K.; (2009)
Segregation, Civil Rights, and Health Disparities: The Legacy of African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1910--1968 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001032033/) unapi

Article Baker, Robert B.; Washington, Harriet A.; Olakanmi, Ololade; Savitt, Todd L.; Jacobs, Elizabeth A.; Hoover, Eddie; Wynia, Matthew K.; (2008)
African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846--1968: Origins of a Racial Divide (/p/isis/citation/CBB001032031/) unapi

Book Ward, Thomas J., Jr.; (2003)
Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South (/p/isis/citation/CBB000630043/) unapi

Book Johnson, Lenworth N.; Daniels, O. C. Bobby; (2002)
Breaking the Color Line in Medicine: African Americans in Ophthalmology (/p/isis/citation/CBB000301576/) unapi

Book Ridlon, Florence; (2005)
A Black Physician's Struggle for Civil Rights: Edward C. Mazique, M.D. (/p/isis/citation/CBB000550078/) unapi

Article Baker, Robert B.; Washington, Harriet A.; Olakanmi, Ololade; Savitt, Todd L.; Jacobs, Elizabeth A.; Hoover, Eddie; Wynia, Matthew K.; (2009)
Creating a Segregated Medical Profession: African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846--1910 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001032032/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Baker, Robert B.
Doyle, Dennis
Hoover, Eddie
Jacobs, Elizabeth A.
Olakanmi, Ololade
Savitt, Todd Lee
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of the National Medical Association
Journal of the American Medical Association
Social Science History
Cornell University Press
Éditions Autrement
Johns Hopkins University Press
New York University Press
African Americans and science
Medicine and race
African Americans
Physicians; doctors
Public health
Boas, Franz
Mazique, Edward Craig
Wertham, Fredric
Bernard, Viola W
Bishop, Shelton Hale
Wright, Richard
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
United States
New York City (New York, U.S.)
Alabama (U.S.)
Georgia (U.S.)
South Carolina (U.S.)
Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center
Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment