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A Black Physician's Struggle for Civil Rights

Edward C. Mazique, M.D.

Florence Ridlon

Publication Year: 2005

This powerful biography traces the career of an African American physician and civil rights advocate, Edward Craig Mazique (1911-1987), from the poverty and discrimination of Natchez, Mississippi, to his status as a prominent physician in Washington, D.C. Florence Ridlon relates how Dr. Mazique's grandfather went from being a slave to becoming one of the largest landowners in Adams County, Mississippi. This moving story of one man's accomplishments, in spite of many opposing forces, is also a chapter in the struggle of African Americans to achieve equality in the twentieth-century.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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pp. i-ii

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

I first met Dr. Edward Craig Mazique in 1981 when my husband, Robert W. Wheeler, was an HEW Fellow in Washington, D.C., and I was finishing my dissertation for my doctorate in sociology. Margurite Mazique, Dr. Mazique’s wife, was in charge of the Fellows program. When Margurite learned that Bob and I were interested in writing a book on the contributions of black athletes to the world of sports, she suggested we meet her husband. This book is a natural outgrowth of our...

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pp. xv-xviii

In a work involving this amount of research, it is impossible to acknowledge all those who assisted. However, there are many who have contributed so much; they do need to be thanked. Each one of the individuals interviewed added something to my understanding of the life of Dr. Edward Craig Mazique, even though space limited the inclusion of material from all the interviews. The following people gave generously of their time to...

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pp. xix-xxiv

Dr. Edward Craig Mazique, or Eddie, as he was always called, was a prominent physician in Washington, D.C.1 He was well known for his wit, his humanitarianism, and his social and political involvement. Instrumental in the integration of the District Medical Society and the local hospitals, the passage of Medicare, the desegregation of many Washington organizations, and other numerous achievements, Eddie’s...

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Chapter One: Mississippi Roots

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pp. 1-10

Dr. Edward Craig Mazique’s past began in an unpretentious home near Natchez, Mississippi. Today you must wind down a narrow dirt road and wade with your car across a driveway partially submerged by a shallow creek to finally come upon the small white house. Behind it you see nothing but tall woods and on the sides nothing but extensive fields ending in another forest in the distance. It is easy to visualize history passing by only outside the borders of this secluded area...

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Chapter Two: A Country Boy

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pp. 11-58

Mississippi in the early 1900s was one of the most miserable places in this country for blacks. During Reconstruction there had been a vision of brighter days on the horizon. If they just worked hard, blacks could become mayors, congressman, senators, and successful farmers.1 By the twentieth century, the life of the poor sharecropper, the long hours to end up with no more than they had as slaves,...

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Chapter Three: Shedding the Shackles of Natchez

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pp. 59-94

Even the lack of screens in the segregated seats that allowed the cinders to blow in their faces didn’t dampen the Mazique brothers’ spirits as they boarded a train and pulled out of Natchez on a warm September day in 1929. Eddie and Douglas each had one pair of shoes, which they seldom wore. Now they were sitting, dressed up, wearing those tight shoes, and anticipating their future at Morehouse. It wasn’t long before Eddie could be seen slipping out of his shoes and...

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Chapter Four: The Nation’s Capital: A City of Inconsistencies

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pp. 95-120

Over the years, race relations in Washington, D.C., were anything but consistent. At times, blacks and whites peacefully coexisted. At other times, there was animosity and hostility between the races. During some eras, whites even commingled and socialized with blacks with ease and grace. It is impossible to understand what Washington was like when Eddie arrived without knowing a bit of the history...

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Chapter Five: Being a Doctor Is Not Enough

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pp. 121-144

Eddie was now a doctor, a man respected by the black community. No longer living in the South, his relations with whites were clearly an improvement over what he had experienced in Natchez and Atlanta. Yet all of his professional achievements did not make him immune to the discrimination suffered by blacks in the nation’s capital and the surrounding areas. Memories of some of these...

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Chapter Six: The Battle Continues

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pp. 145-170

After the District’s collapse as a territory in 1854, agreement was difficult to attain on how it should be managed. Everyone seemed to want control. The stormy debate was finally settled by an act of Congress in June 1878, which detailed a plan that was to hold sway for the next ninety years.1 Under the new arrangement residents...

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Chapter Seven: A Year at the Helm

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pp. 171-194

The fight for equal treatment was far from over in the District, but 1959–1960 afforded Eddie the opportunity to reach a national audience with his ideas. At the relatively young age of forty-seven, he had succeeded in his chosen profession and was rewarded with the highest honor for a black doctor among his peers, to serve as the president of the National Medical Association (NMA). The opportunities Eddie’s position afforded him to...

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Chapter Eight: Health Care for All

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pp. 195-220

His year as president of the NMA ended but the struggle for Medicare, aid to the emerging African nations, and the other causes Eddie believed in so strongly continued. While president, Eddie organized a trip to Eastern Europe that was to begin only three days after the convention ended.

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Chapter Nine: Battles on the Home Front

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pp. 221-236

There may have been no blood, but in 1961 Eddie experienced more emotional pain than at any time in his life. Eddie had learned to endure the insults to his dignity that were part of being a black man in the South. He had built a barrier of protection to keep himself from being hurt too deeply by the inconsistency and, at times, brutality of the white man, but he had no such protection from what was to...

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Chapter Ten: The Turmoil of the Sixties

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pp. 237-256

If the sixties was a tumultuous time for Eddie personally, the turmoil in the country was even greater. The societal events that were shaking the nation had a tremendous impact on its black citizens. Eddie was very much in sympathy with the underlying conditions that led to the upheavals of the 1960s, and he was involved in some of the major events.1 Thus, when discussing his life, it was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the D.C. riots that stood out in his mind when he spoke of...

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Chapter Eleven: City of Hope, City of Despair

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pp. 257-284

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. conceived of the Poor People’s Campaign, he envisioned an encampment in the nation’s capital of poor people called the “City of Hope,” which he saw as a strong, regularly visible symbol of the poverty in the United States. The purpose of the shantytown would be to dramatize the plight of the urban poor as the down-home mule would be used to point to the rural poverty. Many of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organizers...

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Chapter Twelve: Continuing Challenges and New Honors

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pp. 285-320

Although the riots and the Poor People’s Campaign grabbed most of the headlines, many other causes claimed Eddie’s attention during the latter half of the 1960s. On Monday, April 8, 1968, before the federal troops had been recalled from the District of Columbia and prior to the curfew being lifted, a headline in the Washington Post already heralded a rebuilding effort.1 There were many suggestions made during the...

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pp. 326-330

Eddie was one of those rare people who is appreciated both during his life and after his death. On the day of his funeral, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was packed with dignitaries, patients, and friends. The mayor and councilpersons of Washington; Vice President Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush; Dick Gregory; and many of the physicians in the city were there. The newspaper tributes were extensive, sincere, and flattering. From black press, white press, alumni magazines...


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pp. 331-372


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pp. 373-382


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pp. 383-391

Back Cover

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pp. 392

E-ISBN-13: 9780826333414
E-ISBN-10: 0826333419
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826333391
Print-ISBN-10: 0826333397

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 30 halftones
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mazique, Edward Craig, 1911-1987.
  • Health services accessibility -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • African American physicians -- Biography.
  • Right to health -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Minorities -- Medical care -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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