James McCune Smith (1813-1865) was born free to an enslaved woman who later self-emancipated herself. His father was a white slave owner. Smith was an exceptional student, but was denied admission to universities because of his race.
Smith found a champion in an African-American minister who helped finance his education at University of Glasgow in Scotland instead.
He graduated at the top of his class in 1835. He received his medical degree in 1837. Smith returned to New York in the 1840s as the first university-trained black doctor in the country. He cared for both black and white patients and worked tirelessly to help children specifically, the kids of the Colored Orphan Asylum where he practiced for 25 years.
He was a prominent aboilitionist and wrote extensively against slavery including writing the introduction to Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. Smith died in 1863 in Ohio where he served as a professor at Wilberforce College. He was survived by his wife and five children.-Heidi Durrow
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.