Dr. Louis T. Wright was a surgeon, medical researcher, and NAACP chairman who wrote notable scientific papers and developed necessary medical techniques. He attended HBCU Clark Atlanta University and Harvard Medical School, carrying on an educational and medical legacy.
Wright was born July 23, 1891 in LaGrange, Georgia. His father was born as slave, eventually attending medical school before becoming a minister. Wright’s stepfather, William Fletcher Penn, was the first Black graduate of the Yale School of Medicine.
After leaving college, Wright returned to Georgia and joined the Army Medical Corps just in time for World War I, serving as both a physician and achieving the rank of Captain. During his time in the Corps, he helped develop a smallpox vaccination using an intradermal technique. While in the Corps, Wright and other members were struck by a gas attack that greatly harmed his health, earning him a Purple Heart award.
Arriving in New York, Wright joined Harlem Hospital as its first Black surgical staff member, making him the first to do so at a non-segregated hospital. Over time, he became the first Black NYPD surgeon as well. As a member of the NAACP, he began a scholarly publication, “Harlem Hospital Bulletin,” and wrote several columns for the NAACP’s “Crisis” magazine.
Wright worked for Harlem Hospital until 1949, becoming the director of the department of surgery and president of its medical board. He was a noted expert in the treatment of head injuries among other procedures.
The gas attack eventually caused Wright to develop tuberculosis. He succumbed to the condition in 1952 at the age of 61.
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