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Exhibit celebrates impact of African-American surgeons

Apr. 16, 2015, 8:58 AM

A National Library of Medicine traveling exhibit, “Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons,” is underway at the Annette and Irwin Eskind Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The exhibit, which celebrates the history of black surgeons and black medical institutions, as well as current and future trailblazers in the field, is arranged in four sections:

  • Pioneers, which highlights five institutions devoted to training and treatment for African-Americans, including Nashville’s Meharry Medical College;
  • Contemporary Pioneers, which features portraits of four contemporary African-American surgeons and educators;
  • New Frontiers, which highlights 13 pioneering surgeons, including Levi Watkins Jr., M.D., the first African-American graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who died April 11 after the exhibit was completed; and
  • History, a look at early medical education for African-Americans, the effect of segregation on health care and the efforts of African-American health professionals to rise above the constraints society attempted to place upon them.

Also as a local part of the exhibit, the Eskind Library will be featuring black surgeons and surgical technicians who have trained or practiced at Vanderbilt, including Watkins, Vivien Thomas, Andrew Manlove, Steve Stain, M.D., Christina Bailey Edwards, M.D., Keith Gray, M.D., Selwyn O. Rogers Jr., M.D., Willie V. Melvin III, M.D., and John H. Stewart IV, M.D.

The local exhibit will also highlight artifacts on loan from the archives of Meharry Medical College.

The exhibit is housed in display cases on the first floor and in the History of Medicine Room on the third floor of the Eskind Library, and was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore.

It is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and runs through May 22.

More information on the exhibit can be found here.

To see the Eskind Library material in the exhibit, go here.

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