February is dedicated as Black History Month, honoring the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history. The Black History Month 2022 theme, “Black Health and Wellness,” explores “the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.” At Faithful Friends, we celebrate Black History Month by shining light on Black History Makers who have made an impact on the veterinary profession.
Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson received his Ph.D. at Cornell in 1932 and three years later became the third president of Tuskegee Institute (now University). Dr. Patterson also founded Tuskegee’s Veterinary College, making it possible for Black students to receive a veterinary education in the segregated South. His progressions paved the way for these students to pursue veterinary medicine. Dr. Patterson established the “United Negro College Fund” in 1944 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987.
Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb earned a BS from Tuskegee Institute in 1943 and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1949 from the Tuskegee Institute (now University) School of Veterinary Medicine. Webb was the first of two African American women to graduate from a school of veterinary medicine in the United States in 1949.
Booker T. Washington formed a branch of the ‘Bands of Mercy’, a humane youth organization that was started by the American Humane Education Society and the Massachusetts SPCA. These Bands of Mercy pledged “kindness and justice to all living creatures,” and held club meetings, put on plays, sang songs, went on photography excursions to humanely ‘capture’ wildlife, and stopped animal cruelty when they saw it happening.
During World War II, Dr. Jane Hinton worked as a medical technician for the U.S. War Department. After the war ended, she enrolled in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Together with Alfreda Johnson Webb, they became the first African-American women to earn the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1949.