The Racial Divide in American Medicine documents the struggle for equity in health and health care by African Americans in Mississippi and the United States and the connections between what happened there and the national search for social justice in health care. Dr. Richard D. deShazo and the contributors to the volume trace the dark journey from a system of slave hospitals in the state, through Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the civil rights era, to the present day. They substantiate that current health disparities are directly linked to America’s history of separation, neglect, struggle, and disparities.
Contributors reveal details of individual physicians’ journeys for recognition both as African Americans and as professionals in Mississippi. Despite discrimination by their white colleagues and threats of violence, a small but fearless group of African American physicians fought for desegregation of American medicine and society. For example, T. R. M. Howard, MD, in the all-black city of Mound Bayou led a private investigation of the Emmett Till murder that helped trigger the civil rights movement. Later, other black physicians risked their lives and practices to provide care for white civil rights workers during the civil rights movement.
Dr. deShazo has assembled an accurate account of the lives and experiences of black physicians in Mississippi, one that gives full credit to the actions of these pioneers. Dr. deShazo’s introduction and the essays address ongoing isolation and distrust among black and white colleagues. This book will stimulate dialogue, apology, and reconciliation, with the ultimate goal of improving disparities in health and health care and addressing long-standing injustices in our country.