Segregation, civil rights, and health disparities: the legacy of African American physicians and organized medicine, 1910-1968.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Between 1910 and 1968, the National Medical Association (NMA) repeatedly clashed with the American Medical Association (AMA) over the latter organization's racial bars to membership and other health policy issues. The NMA, founded in 1895 as a nonexclusionary medical society to provide a voice for disenfranchised black physicians and patients, struggled in its early years, during which AMA leadership took scant notice of it. But skirmishes ensued over such actions as stigmatizing racial labels in the AMA's American Medical Directory, which, beginning in 1906, listed all U.S. physicians but designated African Americans with the notation col. The NMA also repeatedly asked the AMA to take action against overt racial bars on blacks' membership in its constituent state and county societies. During the civil rights era, African American physicians received no AMA support in seeking legal remedies to hospital segregation. And the NMA and AMA found themselves opposed on other policy issues, including Medicaid and Medicare. These differences eventually catalyzed a series of direct confrontations. The 1965 AMA meeting in New York City, for example, was protested by about 200 NMA-led picketers. The NMA's quest for racial equality in medicine was supported by some other medical organizations, such as the Medical Committee for Human Rights. In 1966, the AMA House voted to amend the AMA Constitution and Bylaws, giving its Judicial Council (now the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs) the authority to investigate allegations of discrimination. This paved the way for a subsequent era of increasing cooperation and understanding.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Washington, HA; Baker, RB; Olakanmi, O; Savitt, TL; Jacobs, EA; Hoover, E; Wynia, MK; Writing Group on the History of African Americans and the Medical Profession, ; Blanchard, J; Boulware, LE; Braddock, C; Corbie-Smith, G; Crawley, L; LaVeist, TA; Maxey, R; Mills, C; Moseley, KL; Williams, DR

Published Date

  • June 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 101 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 513 - 527

PubMed ID

  • 19585919

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-9684

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0027-9684(15)30936-6


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States