African-American Hospitals Were the Pride of an Excluded Community

By | February 13, 2017

Many hospitals, from prestigious medical centers to tiny community clinics, at one time did not admit black patients and did not hire or train black doctors or nurses. Others confined black patients to “colored” wings. In the African-American community, those institutions are still sometimes known as “white hospitals.”

“In the minds of our grandparents, black and white, that’s just the way it was,” said Nathaniel Wesley Jr., a health care consultant and authority on hospitals that serve a primary black patient population. “It was our way of life.”

So African-Americans built their own hospitals. Black-owned or –operated hospitals were prominent in the South and in northern cities from the time of slavery until the Civil Rights era of the early 1960s.

“Originally created to provide health care and education within a segregated society, they evolved to become symbols of black pride and achievement,” Vanessa Northington Gamble writes in her book, Making a Place for Ourselves: The Black Hospital Movement, 1920 to 1945. “They supplied medical care, provided training opportunities, and contributed to the development of a black professional class.” (Hospitals & Health Networks)

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