In 1959, Marion Gerald Hood was denied admittance to Emory University School of Medicine due to his race. He is African American.

Jim Crow Laws, enacted by white Democrats in the South during the Reconstructionist period in the late 19th century, mandated legal separation of races. These laws remained in effect until the mid-1960s. They were the basis for Dr. Hood’s (yes, doctor!!) rejection from Emory.

Dr. Hood went on to attend Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He was a practicing OBGYN and now is semi-retired working part-time at a clinic that treats patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Dr. Hood

His rejection letter is making the rounds on the Internet on this, the 59th anniversary, and it caused me to think. Lots of stuff causes me to think, but this got me thinking deeper.

“It’s a shame it took 60 years, but it’s moving in the right direction there are still barriers,” says Dr. Hood. “I don’t hold them personally responsible for what happened to me. They were just following the rule of the good ol’ South in those days.”

If you want to see Dr. Hood’s talk about why he got into medicine, click here: Georgia Man Reflects on Medical School Racial Denial on 59th Anniversary

I’m so, so grateful that race doesn’t matter to me, or most people, these days—despite what the news media and the loud voices on social media want us to believe. Are there racial and socio-economic barriers? Yes. Are things dire and bleak? I see progress.

I’m happy to receive the expertise of my healthcare providers regardless of what they look like. I’m much more interested in the makeup of their brains than the makeup of their skin tone. Only one of those body parts will save my life.

I got a jones to look up some facts and numbers about minorities and medical schools.

The first African American doctor graduated from a US medical school in 1847, also the year the American Medical Association formed. Two years later, in 1849, the first female graduated from a US medical school. Sadly, it wasn’t until 15 years later, in 1864, the first African American woman graduated. Her name was Rebecca Lee Crumpler.

Dr. Crumpler

Interestingly, today, African Americans still make up a smaller percentage of admissions into medical schools. White admissions have dropped in the last 35 years, but the only significant minority gain has been by Asians. Latinos have fared only a little better, but African Americans and Native Americans/Alaska Natives have not seen a significant increase in admissions.

I was always taught NEVER to bring a problem WITHOUT a solution.

These statistics say to me that we need more STEM/STEAM programs most in our African American, Native American and Latino communities.

We need to build up these students to believe they can achieve and excel in the sciences. We need people to volunteer in these schools, after school programs, and camps to tutor and mentor these kids.

Forget the broad-sweeping, bureaucratic, red-tape choking government “program,” where most of the money will go to administration and not to implementation. No, we can’t just sit at home and binge watch Netflix and demand “our government” do something. Change is never affected in Washington.

Real change always starts with one person. A person who steps up and says, “I will.” A person who doesn’t sit at their computer and complain. A person who goes out and does.

Let’s BE that person!

Volunteer today.