Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Girls aspiring to careers should follow women physicians’ example—many have both satisfactory home and professional lives, Dr. E. Mae McCarroll of Newark, N.J., told National Medical Association delegates and women’s auxiliary members last night.
The evening session at Second Baptist Church, Griffith Avenue at East 24th Street, concluded the 52nd annual convention’s third-day sessions devoted to a public health program, particularly as it applies to medical and hospital facilities for Negroes.
About 150 African American doctors from New York rode a special train for the National Medical Association’s first convention in Southern California, a gathering of about 600 doctors and their wives at Jefferson High School and Second Baptist Church led by Dr. Henry A. McPherson of Los Angeles.
It’s unclear how many black doctors there were in Los Angeles in 1947, but in 1955 there were about 200, according to a Times story about another gathering of the National Medical Association. A 1956 story says the association had about 125 members in Los Angeles.
A 1967 Times story by Lois Dickert Armstrong notes that Los Angeles County has 400 black doctors and says: “20 years ago, there were almost no Negro doctors on any hospital staff in Los Angeles except for scattered ‘courtesy’ privileges.” The story further notes that no black doctors graduated in 1966 from UCLA, which currently had only one black medical student.
The 1947 convention honored five local women doctors: Dr. Ruth Temple, Dr. Doris S. Moore, Dr. Shelby Robinson and Dr. Pauline Roberts of Los Angeles and Dr. Edna Griffin of Pasadena.
Founded in 1895 because the American Medical Association barred blacks, the National Medical Association began admitting white doctors, 12 of them, in 1955 as a step toward integration.
But progress was slow. The 1967 Times story quotes Dr. Julius Hill, a Los Angeles orthopedist: “Damn it! I want to be accepted like everybody else—on my own merits! I want to be that doctor. Not that Negro doctor.”
The American Medical Association was officially desegregated in 1968.