A Look Back at African American Doctors in Dallas, 1920s to 1950s

In 2010, Dallas news did a summary article about a period of Black history in Dallas centered around highly skilled African American doctors, including surgeons, who broke down some color barriers. Here’s a snippet:

Dallas Morning News readers were probably startled at the June 24, 1954, front-page story that appeared under the headline “Negro MD’s to Practice in St. Paul’s.” The story explained that the more than 300 white doctors at St. Paul’s, a hospital established and operated by a Catholic religious order, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, had voted unanimously to extend privileges to five black physicians. The doctors were Lee G. Pinkston, William K. Flowers Jr., George L. Shelton Jr., Joseph R. Williams, and Frank H. Jordan.

St. Paul’s administrator Sister Mary Helen and Dr. John L. Goforth, medical chief of staff, gave the doctors a tour of the hospital, to which they could admit 32 black patients.

‘Nobody picketed

There was one major restriction: They could practice at St. Paul’s, but they could not become staff. Texas hospitals then required all staff members to belong to the Texas Medical Association, and its constitution had a provision that members had to be white.

Though racism permeated Texas society in 1954, St. Paul’s integration caused no furor. Jordan’s wife, Julia, later recalled being astounded at the lack of negative reaction.

“It was amazing,” she said. “Nobody stood in their way. Nobody picketed.”

Dr. Emmett J. Conrad, an African-American surgeon who came to Dallas the next year, later said that “Saint Paul opened its doors before the hospitals in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and all the so-called bastions of liberty. … You know, it was done quietly, without fanfare. Read more…

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