Juliette Derricotte was well-loved in her community. She spent years inspiring students as a public speaker before becoming a dean at Fisk University. Was that why she ended up mysteriously dead at only 34?
Derricotte and three students were traveling along Georgia’s backroads in 1931 when a white driver suddenly swerved into their lane, striking their vehicle! The car overturned into a ditch, and the white man fled the scene. What happened next was a dose of America’s deeply embedded anti-Blackness.
Someone eventually stopped to help transport Derricotte and her students to a nearby hospital, but as Jim Crow would have it, the racists refused them admittance. Time was running out, and their wounds were worsening by the minute.
Being denied medical treatment wasn’t new for our people. Derricotte and the other seriously injured student, Nina Johnson, rested under a local Black woman’s care. Meanwhile, another student made arrangements to transport them 35 miles to Black-owned Walden Hospital in Chattanooga. But it was too late.
Derricotte didn’t make it to the hospital alive, and Johnson passed the next day. Their deaths weren’t happenstance – systemic racism killed them. While hospitals today aren’t legally segregated, medical racism STILL claims Black lives. While we must continue to fight for better medical treatment, no one can take care of us like us. That’s why Black medical professionals are SO important!