[St. Louis. 1923]. Black-and-white photograph, 10 x 57 3/4 inches. Mild surface wear, light creases, a couple of closed tears, not afecting the image. Very good. Rolled. Item #WRCAM54507
An extraordinary photographic record of the 28th annual convention of the National Medical Association, held in St. Louis in August 1934. The organization's name is mistakenly given as "American" Medical Association in the negative. The National Medical Association was created in 1895 by African American doctors and pharmacists who were repeatedly excluded from admission to the American Medical Association. The organization still exists today, and numbers over 30,000 members. The present panoramic photograph measures almost five feet wide, and features a few hundred Afircan-American doctors, mostly male, some females, and even a few children. The beginning of this convention, held at the Pine Street YMCA, was steeped in controversy as local African-American physicians threatened a protest over the welcome speaker, the St. Louis health commissioner who had recently required the vaccination of black people arriving from the South. The group threatened to turn out the lights if he spoke, and he managed to get sick and back out at the last minute. Also, the 1923 annual convention was a momentous one for the NMA, as it created the National Hospital Association to advocate for better medical care at African-American hospitals. "Conceived in no spirit of racial exclusiveness, fostering no ethnic antagonism, but born of the exigencies of the American environment, the National Medical Association has for its object the banding together for mutual cooperation and helpfulness, the men and women of African descent who are legally and honorably engaged in the practice of the cognate professions of medicine, surgery, pharmacy and dentistry" - Dr. C.V. Roman, founding member and first editor of the JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. Images of the NMA are exceedingly rare, both in institutions and the market. OCLC records no photographs of the organization. A stunning image of this pioneering group, meeting in a fiercely-divided South in the middle of the Jim Crow era.