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The Morehouse Mystique

Becoming a Doctor at the Nation's Newest African American Medical School

Marybeth Gasman with Louis W. Sullivan

Publication Year: 2012

The Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of only four predominantly black medical schools in the United States. Among its illustrious alumni are surgeons general of the United States, medical school presidents, and highly regarded medical professionals. This books tells the engrossing history of this venerable institution. The school was founded just after the civil rights era, when major barriers prevented minorities from receiving adequate health care and black students were underrepresented in predominantly white medical schools. The Morehouse School of Medicine was conceived to address both problems—it was a minority-serving institution educating doctors who would practice in underserved communities. The school's history involves political maneuvering, skilled leadership, dedication to training African American physicians, and a mission of primary care in disadvantaged communities. Highlighting such influential leaders as former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, The Morehouse Mystique situates the school in the context of the history of medical education for blacks and race relations throughout the country. The book features excerpts from personal interviews with prominent African American doctors as well as with former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, who reveal how local, state, and national politics shaped the development of black medical schools in the United States. The story of the Morehouse School of Medicine reflects the turbulent time in which it was founded and the lofty goals and accomplishments of a diverse group of African American leaders. Their tireless efforts in creating this eminent black institution changed the landscape of medical education and the racial and ethnic makeup of physicians and health care professions.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

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pp. ix-x

Morehouse School of Medicine has made a profound difference in the lives of countless people. It fills a unique niche in medical education by training doctors who care about low-income and minority patients. I am so proud of the school’s remarkable accomplishments and am grateful to have been a part of it during the beginning. ...

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pp. xi-xiv

In fall 2007 I received a call from Marc Nivet, chief financial officer at the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. He had just read my book Envisioning Black Colleges and, thankfully, he enjoyed it. Nivet asked whether I would be interested in writing a history of Morehouse School of Medicine, which the foundation was funding. He put me in touch with Louis W. Sullivan, the school’s president emeritus, who was spearheading the ...

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pp. 1-9

For more than a century, the United States has vigorously debated how to provide medical care to the greatest number of people. Politicians, interest groups, and ordinary citizens—in an effort to guarantee access to health care for the millions of Americans who are without it—have argued over whether to adopt a European-style system of socialized medicine or to tinker with the existing system of private insurance. Lost in the din is the fact that minority ...

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1 African Americans and the Medical Profession

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pp. 10-22

The first known African American who graduated from medical school in the United States was David John Peck, who finished his studies at Benjamin Rush Medical School in 1847. According to Wilbur H. Watson, author of Against the Odds: Blacks in the Profession of Medicine in the United States, “the next twelve years following Peck’s success witnessed the efforts of several other African Americans and institutions of higher education to pave the way for an increasing presence of blacks in medicine.”1 ...

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2 Birth of a Medical School

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pp. 23-44

The Medical Education Program at Morehouse College was born in the midst of racial turmoil and during a time of limited opportunity for African American students and Black physicians. A key factor in its birth was a 1967 report, Physician Manpower in Georgia, released by the Georgia Office of Comprehensive Health Planning, which warned that the state was facing a dire shortage of medical doctors. According to this document, Georgia’s ...

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3 Building His Bike as He Rides It

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pp. 45-70

At a press conference on the day of Louis W. Sullivan’s 1975 appointment to the position of dean of the Morehouse College Medical Education Program, President Hugh M. Gloster said, “We celebrate a tremendous triumph today, and we welcome you, Dr. Sullivan, for consenting to come and help make the Morehouse College Medical Education Program a reality.”1 Several prominent guests were at that press conference, including Arthur Richardson, the ...

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4 Coming into Its Own

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pp. 71-89

Morehouse School of Medicine was incorporated in Georgia on August 12, 1980, with a Board of Overseers that included Calvin Brown, Robert Foreman, Joseph Gayles, Hugh Gloster, Howard Jordan, Nelson McGhee, Louis Sullivan, and Clinton Warner.1 Sullivan now served as president of the medical school as well as its academic dean. On July 1, 1981, the institution became independent of Morehouse College, and the Board of Overseers became the ...

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5 Leadership in Transition

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pp. 90-100

It had been many years since Louis Sullivan’s first term as president began in 1981. With the founder and robust leader of the institution leaving to take another position in 1989, what would become of Morehouse School of Medicine? In many respects, the institution maintained the course that Sullivan had set for it. But the period of steady growth that ensued in that year also ...

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6 A Controversy Erupts

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pp. 101-109

The man Morehouse’s Board of Trustees chose to be Sullivan’s successor had once aspired to be a Methodist minister, and he had the warm and friendly personality to match that aspiration. Hand picked by Sullivan himself, James Gavin stepped into the leadership role at Morehouse School of Medicine on July 1, 2002. A son of Alabama, he received his undergraduate education ...

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7 Recovering from Turmoil

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pp. 110-119

Upon James Gavin’s dismissal from Morehouse School of Medicine, David Satcher was asked to serve as interim president. Satcher had a formidable reputation. From 1998 to 2001, during the Clinton administration, he served as the sixteenth Surgeon General of the United States; at the same time, he was Assistant Secretary of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ...

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8 Nurturing Students

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pp. 120-125

Students who choose to attend Morehouse School of Medicine have typically been dedicated to primary care. They are committed to practicing medicine in communities that other people avoid. According to Walter Sullivan, Morehouse students “see a need to go into communities to keep people from taking buses and going halfway across town to see a physician.”1 Marjorie Smith, a longtime Morehouse faculty member and a member of the admissions ...

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pp. 126-133

Morehouse School of Medicine was built in the spirit of all of those pioneers in African American medicine who lived decades earlier—Black students who braved the often hostile climate at historically White colleges and universities, and African American doctors who, against the odds, established their own medical schools and private practices in rural communities throughout the United States. Unlike its predecessors, however, Morehouse ...

Appendix: Alumni Carrying Out the Mission

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pp. 135-142


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pp. 143-176


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pp. 177-182

E-ISBN-13: 9781421406046
E-ISBN-10: 1421406047
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421404431
Print-ISBN-10: 1421404435

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 28 halftones, 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2012