Dr. Richard Francis Jones was a pioneering urologist who helped pave the way for other Black specialists in his field. On this day in 1936, he became the first Black diplomat for the American Board of Urology before a long medical career established and cemented at Howard University.|

Dr. Jones was born February 6, 1897, in Washington, D.C. After being operated on for a hernia as a youth, Jones was inspired to embark upon a career in medicine. He completed both his undergraduate and medical doctorate program at Howard University by 1922, and interned at Freedmen’s Hospital, now known as Howard University Hospital.

Also around this time, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother became a lifelong member of the NAACP. In 1930, Jones chose urology as his career and rose quickly in the field. In 1947, he oversaw and directed Howard University’s first urology residency and practiced at the school until his retirement. Among his several research papers and findings, Jones also helped usher in an understanding of certain antibiotics and treatments.

Despite the racism and segregation of his time, Jones fought to bring the same level of training his white counterparts and their students enjoyed. With the help of progressive white physicians and urologists, Jones took what he learned and brought the findings to his Black pool of urology residents. Many current urologists credit Jones for keeping the torch lit for future Black physicians and passing on valuable know-how.

Jones retired in 1970, but not without leaving behind a wealth of published articles related to his field. He passed away on April 16, 1979.

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