Black History: Special Delivery!!


Dr. Clarence Sumner Greene (1901 – 1957)

Dr. Clarence Sumner Greene was the first Board Certified African American Neurosurgeon in the United States. Sumner was born in 1901 in Washington DC. He moved to New York briefly when his mother remarried but soon returned to Washington DC to live with an aunt. Greene thrived there, academically and athletically. He attended Dunbar High School. During high school, he was given the nickname, “Bronze Adonis” by his classmate the young, Charles Drew.

After graduating high school, Greene entered the University of Pennsylvania majoring in dentistry. He graduated with a DDS in 1926 and practiced dentistry for a year. However, he did not find it fulfilling. Greene then enrolled in a pre-med program at Harvard University from 1927-1929. He completed an internship at Cleveland City Hospital in 1930. He then enrolled at Howard University Medical School where he graduated with a medical degree in 1936 at the age of 34. Green completed a surgery residency rotation under his childhood friend, Dr. Charles Drew. He then worked as a professor of surgery at Howard University Medical School.

In 1946, Greene had the good fortune to train with renowned surgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield at the Montreal Neurological Institute. In 1953 he became the first person of African descent to become certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. Greene would then go on to serve as the Chair of Neurosurgery at Howard University. While there he successfully completed numerous surgeries related to intracranial aneurysms, brain tumors, and herniated intervertebral discs.

Greene died unexpectedly in 1957 at the age of 56. His son Charles Greene, Jr would follow in his footsteps becoming a successful pediatric neurosurgeon.