John was a pioneer in many ways. He was the first African-American to obtain a medical degree, graduating from the University of Glasgow in the 1830s, when no American university would admit him. His pioneering achievement alone deserves greater appreciation. Research has revealed that there were many other black doctors who lived in the United States in the decades after McCune Smith became a doctor.
These doctors conducted their own research and demonstrated that the original collection of figures in situ in northern nursing homes had been flawed and that, as a result, the data were incorrect and could not be used to accurately determine the health of black asylum patients. After graduating, several black students attended college throughout the century. Black writers had been operating in Britain since the 1770s, and by the time younger black doctors like DeGrasse and Augusta began their studies, McCune Smith had already opened an office that served patients on both sides of the color line and had published several scientific articles. English Heritage has approved the nomination, publicly marking the life story of Britain's first black consulting physician.
Alexander Thomas Augusta was another example of a successful black doctor. Despite Virginia laws prohibiting free blacks from learning to read, he was educated by a minister, moved to Toronto, and graduated from Trinity College medical school in 1856. The school graduated a list of children who would occupy the highest ranks of black intellectual and public life. James Samuel Risien Russell (1863-193) was a renowned neurologist, acclaimed professor and one of the first British black consultants. He was a prolific writer, not only publishing peer-reviewed articles in medical journals but also writing essays and lecturing refuting pseudoscientific claims of black inferiority and predicting the transformative impact that African Americans were destined to make on the world culture. The achievements of these pioneering black doctors are remarkable and deserve to be celebrated.
They overcame immense obstacles to become successful professionals and made an invaluable contribution to society.