The Growth of Miami’s Black Medical Community
For more than a century, beginning with Miami’s charter in 1896, African Americans have played an integral part in the city’s socio-political development. They were also leaders in the expansion of health care into communities that needed the most.
Denied entry to the white Dade County Medical Association, Black doctors, dentists, and pharmacists organized the Dade County Academy of Medicine (1920s) to have a space to openly discuss their profession and the community’s needs. According to their website, in early 2007, the group renamed itself the James Wilson Bridges, M.D. Medical Society, in honor of the first black Jackson Memorial Hospital senior resident in obstetrics and gynecology, first black Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Florida, and first black president of the Dade County Medical Association.
There were many black pioneers in medicine before Bridges who could not practice at Jackson including Dr. J. Aphus Butler, a pharmacist and physician who opened the Magic City Drug Store in Overtown; Dr. Solomon McKenzie Frazier, who secured funding to build the Christian Hospital (1920) to serve the needs of the black community; and Dr. William Benjamin Sawyer, who began practicing at the age of 23 and is remembered for traveling to see his patients driving a horse and buggy.
Two years after the signing of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jackson Memorial Hospital medical staff was integrated.
Today, Jackson’s workforce remains a shining reflection of the diverse community it serves.
Jan. 1986 Medical Firsts
Bejany Develops Miami Pouch. Link opens story page.
In 1986, a medical breakthrough, known as the Miami Pouch, helped women with bladder cancer enjoy a better quality of life.Explore in story page.
Apr. 2014 Miracle Stories
Six-Year-Old Saved from Deadly Flu Virus. Link opens story page.
In 2014, 6-year-old Victoria Bermudez was taken to an urgent care center, where she tested positive for influenza and strep throat. While there, her breathing got worse and went into cardiac arrest three times.Explore in story page.
Jan. 1947 Miracle Stories
A Young Black Nurse Shatters Healthcare Barriers. Link opens story page.
In the summer of 1947, Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson returned home from nursing school, and wasted no time shattering racial healthcare barriers.Explore in story page.