skip to content

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.

Share

Trending Stories

Christina Katsouris with family and Jackson doctors at press conference after eye cancer is treated Opens story page.

Apr. 2009 Miracle Stories

Innovative Procedure Helps Children with Eye Cancer

. Link opens story page.

In 2009, 7-year-old Christina Katsouris underwent an extremely rare, new surgery at Holtz Children’s Hospital to treat retinoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that occurs in the retina of the eye.

Explore in story page.
Jackson Memorial Hospital heart transplant patient and professional golfer Erik Compton with golf club and equipment Opens story page.

May. 2012 Miracle Stories

Professional Golfer Receives Life-saving Heart Transplant

. Link opens story page.

In 2008, professional Golfer Erik Compton was preparing to qualify for the PGA Tour, when his transplanted heart started to fail.

Explore in story page.
Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson later years Opens 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.

Copyright 2020 Jackson Health System

Jackson health System