In the 1920s, segregation and discrimination touched all Black Americans’ lives. One of the most powerful impacts was on health care – hospitals provided Black patients with substandard care, if they treated them at all.
But Dr. William H. Calhoun wasn’t having it.
He was one of the first graduates from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. When he and his wife moved to Seattle, WA, he was one of only four Black doctors in the rapidly growing city.
His mission was clear: give Black Seattleites the competent, affirming medical care they deserved.
One of the ways he did this was by making sure he was open on Sundays – many Black people had to work six days a week.
He also supported tutoring and scholarships, and eventually helped found a Black fraternity to spread the power of education to all.
After World War II, Seattle’s Black population more than tripled to over 15,000 Black residents. Calhoun was so successful that he even opened an office downtown – defying the segregation that relegated nearly all Black residents of the city to the Central District.
Calhoun never forgot his mission to bring competent medical care to his community. All of us have the power to educate and empower ourselves – but the true test of our greatness is whether we remember to always support our community with our success!