The Medico-Chirugical Society of the District of Columbia considers itself the oldest African-American medical society in the world. It was established on April 21, 1884, and was created as an organization that could empower and galvanize Black doctors in the nation’s capital.
In essence, the Med-Chi Society was born out of necessity. Between 1869 and 1872, Black doctors aiming for entry into the Medical Society of the District of Columbia were frozen out despite strong efforts from their white colleagues to get similar societies on board with integration.
One of the more vocal champions for integration was Dr. Robert Reyburn, the dean of Howard University Medical School. The MCS was actually born in his offices. The society’s early years did not mark much progress but the 20th Century proved to be a fruitful period for the organization.
Among the MCS highlights – the group helped break racial barriers by getting Black doctors access to practice at D.C. General Hospital in 1948. And in 1957, the group initiated the Imhotep National Conference on Hospital Integration along with the help of the NAACP and the National Medical Association. In 1962, the group’s presence moved the Medical Society of the District of Columbia to open its membership to Black M.D.’s.
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