The National Medical Association was founded on November 26, 1895 in Atlanta, Ga. Today it is known as the National Medical Association, and it is the oldest and largest organization representing African-American physicians and patients.
Though early documentation is sparse, it is known that Black doctors found themselves shut out by Jim Crow laws and other racist practices. When the American Medical Association froze out Black doctors, it provided the impetus for the creation of the National Negro Medical Association.
The group’s charter members gathered at the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895. That group appointed Dr. Robert F. Boyd of Nashville and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams of Chicago as the association’s first president and vice president respectively.
Dr. Boyd and Dr. Miles Lynk of Memphis invited the professionals who attended the expos to meet at the First Congregational Church in Atlanta, and the National Negro Medical Association was now official.
In the early days of the association, the group struggled to grow membership despite the increasing numbers of Black physicians. By the turn of the century, the group renamed itself the National Medical Association but membership recruitment remained a struggle.
But in 1909, the association published its first medical journal edited by Dr. Charles V. Roman and membership swelled. By 1928, 2,000 of the nation’s 4,000 Black physicians were members of the NMA.
Today, the NMA represents 30,000 physicians and their patients. Dr. Niva Lubin-Johnson of Chicago serves as the NMA’s 119th president. The NMA is based in Silver Spring, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.