Algernon Brashear Jackson, MD
(Class of 1901)
As Jefferson Medical College’s first African American graduate,
Algernon Brashear Jackson created opportunities where none had previously
existed. Born in 1878 in rural Indiana, he attended Indiana (University)
Medical College and transferred to Jefferson Medical College in
his senior year. Excluded from internship opportunities because
of his race, Dr. Jackson immediately set up his practice at 772
S. 15th Street in Philadelphia.
As he developed a clientele he was quickly appointed assistant
surgeon at the all-white Philadelphia Polyclinic Hospital, a fact
highlighted in several newspapers (one of which claimed he was the
first and "only negro physician in the U.S." to hold such
a post). In 1904, he co-founded the first African American Greek
letter fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi, also known as the Boulé.
His intention was to afford the dozen black physicians in Philadelphia
access to the city's African American leaders and to extend opportunities
for others within the community. The Boulé continues to benefit
many African Americans to this day.
One of the first demonstrations of this ambition was the establishment
of the city's second hospital for African Americans. Partnering
with black alumnus Henry McKee Minton (JMC 1906) and others, Dr.
Jackson symbolically opened its doors on Lincoln's birthday in 1907.
In The Jeffersonian, April 1912, Dr. Jackson was reported
to be "a very successful surgeon, and is largely responsible
for the foundation of
the Mercy Hospital for Colored People,
at 17th and Fitzwater streets." He was named its first superintendent
and surgeon-in-chief, and his leadership afforded many positions
for non-white doctors, technicians and staff and created a School
for Nurses that continued until the institution closed in 1973.
Recognized as the first African American Fellow of the American
College of Physicians in 1917, Jackson became head of the Department
of Bacteriology, Public Health and Hygiene at Howard University
College of Medicine in the 1920s. He published widely in American
and English medical journals, lectured and also wrote on public
policy and health education (he included sociologist and civil rights
leader W.E.B. Du Bois as his friend and colleague). He produced
several successful popular books such as Jim and Mr. Eddy: a Dixie
Motorlogue (1930), which to blended humor and social commentary.
Dr. Jackson died in Washington, D.C. in 1942. His memory is celebrated
at Howard University in the form of the Jackson Prize for the best
public health thesis. TJU has established a scholarship program
named after its first and very notable African American son.