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Cornell University

Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence: Trailblazing Child Psychiatrist & Pediatrician

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence (1914 – 2019) was a trailblazing pediatrician and psychoanalyst. Born in New York City, Lawerence grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and later returned to New York to complete high school.  Her interest in pursuing a career in mental health and medicine resulted from her family’s grief when her older brother died of a congenital medical condition before his first birthday. This was 2 years before Lawrence was born. Her family’s grief motivated her to pursue a medical career, hoping that she could save other children from meeting the same fate as her brother.  

In 1932, Lawrence arrived in Ithaca, NY as the sole black undergraduate at Cornell University.  She was not allowed to live on campus due to her race.  Instead, she lived with a white family and did domestic work in exchange for room and board. Lawrence completed her undergraduate degree with excellent grades but was denied admission to Cornell’s Medical School due to her race.  She was later accepted to Columbia University Of Physicians and Surgeons under the condition that white patients could refuse treatment.    She was its only black student of 104 total students in 1940 and one of only ten women.  At Columbia, she was mentored by Dr. Charles Drew, the only black faculty member, and the modern-day blood bank founder. 

Continue reading “Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence: Trailblazing Child Psychiatrist & Pediatrician”

Dr. Roscoe C. Giles: First African American To Be Become Certified By The American Board of Surgery

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Roscoe Giles
Dr. Roscoe C. Giles (1890 – 1970)

Roscoe Conkling Giles (1890 – 1970) was born in Albany, New York. He was the first African American to become certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1938 at the age of 27. After graduating from high school in Brooklyn, NY, he was awarded a scholarship to Cornell University and would be the first African American to earn a medical degree there.  He was 16 years old when he began his studies at Cornell.  While there, in 1907, Giles became one of the first members of African American fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. which was started at Cornell in 1906. Continue reading “Dr. Roscoe C. Giles: First African American To Be Become Certified By The American Board of Surgery”

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