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Celebrating Black Veterinarians

Clinical Trials & Research 3 min read
Two black veterinarians working at a clinic, treating a dog, golden retriever

In the world of veterinary medicine, Black veterinarians have played a crucial role in advancing animal health and welfare. As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s time to acknowledge and appreciate the remarkable contributions of Black veterinarians throughout history.

What is Black History Month?

It is an annual celebration recognizing the achievements of African Americans and their pivotal role in history. 2024 theme for Black History Month in Canada is ‘Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build’. This theme not only honors the rich historical and contemporary contributions of Black individuals but also looks forward to embracing new opportunities for the future.

Black Veterinarians Throughout History

In the early days, universities like Kansas State, Michigan State, and Cornell accepted and educated about 70 young Black veterinarians, who were the core role models for the succeeding generations of African American veterinarians.

2024 theme for Black History Month in Canada is ‘Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build’

Dr. Henry Stockton Lewis achieved a historic milestone in 1889, becoming the first African American to graduate from a U.S. veterinary college at the Harvard School of Veterinary Medicine. Following in his footsteps, Dr. August Nathaniel Lushington secured his place in history in 1897 by becoming the first Black individual to receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in the United States from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson

In 1944, Dr. Patterson founded the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine (TUSVM). His visionary mission aimed at addressing systemic barriers that had long denied ethnic minorities admission to existing veterinary schools. His efforts succeeded, as the establishment of TUSVM significantly increased the number of Black veterinarians in the United States. He not only provided opportunities for aspiring Black veterinarians but also contributed to the diversification and inclusivity of the veterinary field, leaving a lasting legacy in the history of veterinary education.

Dr. Iverson C. Bell

In 1949, Dr. Bell, at Michigan State University, Dr. Bell earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Following graduation, Dr. Bell became a founding professor of Small Animal Medicine at Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. After relocating to Indiana, he established a thriving private veterinary practice that he managed successfully for 35 years. Dr. Bell played an active role in veterinary leadership by holding multiple positions within the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association. In addition, Dr. Bell served as the Vice President of the AVMA from 1971 to 1973. Dedicated to education, he was a mentor to future veterinarians and contributed to the founding of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb & Dr. Jane Hinton

In 1949, Dr. Johnson Webb and Jane Hinton became the first African American women to graduate from veterinary school in the U.S. Dr. Webb subsequently became the first African American woman licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the U.S. Their groundbreaking achievements marked a significant advancement for women of color in the field.

Dr. Lila Miller

Dr. Miller, the ‘mother of shelter medicine,’ graduated in 1977. She is one of the first two African American women who graduated from Cornell’s Veterinary College. She later served as the former Vice President of Shelter Medicine at the ASPCA. In 1999, Dr. Miller pioneered the first shelter medicine course at Cornell, showcasing her dedication to the field. 2 years later, she co-founded the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.

NHV’s Commitment to Veterinary Advancements

Black Veterinarians clinical trial

The mentioned veterinarians’ contributions signify significant advancements in the veterinary field. NHV makes a huge investment in clinical research every year to encourage veterinary research and support pioneers in the scientific field. We aim to advance the overall landscape of veterinary medicine while ensuring a diverse and inclusive community for future generations.

Join NHV in honoring Black veterinarians. Share their stories and contributions that helped our furry friends.

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Published: February 20, 2024

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