Contributor © kpdmedia/stock.adobe.com
The Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) would like to invite you as we honor the accomplishments of Black men and women who have made a significant impact on this country and the profession. In honor of Black History Month, the MVMA would like to share the stories of those who overcame barriers and shaped the future for veterinary professionals and the profession. On this page, you will find highlighted stories of veterinarians who contributed to the profession, various resources on Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and updates on how MVMA is making an impact today.
Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington
Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington is believed to be the first African American to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Dr. Lushington would earn his degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1897. Prior to attending veterinary school, Dr. Lushington attended Cornell University. There he would acquire a degree in Agriculture in 1894. Dr. Lushington began his career treating farm animals such as cows, horses, and other livestock. During that period, Dr. Lushington would walk for miles through the woods from Lynchburg to reach farms where his services were needed. He later served his community at the Bureau of Animal Industry, the Federal Department of Agriculture, and as a member of the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Jane Hinton
Dr. Jane Hinton was a graduate of Simmons College at the age of 20. She began her career working in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at Harvard University. There she was an assistant to John Howard Mueller. During that period, Dr. Hinton's work helped to develop the Mueller-Hinton agar, a culture medium that is commonly used for antibiotic susceptibility testing.
After World War II, Dr. Hinton decided to pursue veterinary medicine. Dr. Hinton graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1949. In that same year, Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb would join Dr. Hinton as the first Black woman to acquire a degree in veterinary medicine and join the Women’s Veterinary Medicine Association as a Black member.
Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson
Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson pursued veterinary medicine at Iowa State College and would graduate with is his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 1923. Dr. Patterson was a scholar, leader, and known for his famous quote, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste." In addition to his DVM, Dr. Patterson acquired a Master of Science from Iowa State and a second doctorate from Cornell University. In 1928, Dr. Patterson began teaching at Tuskegee University, and in 1944, founded the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine. It is estimated that 75% of African American veterinarians have received their DVM's from the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Patterson is also the founder of the United Negro College Fund. To this day, the United Negro College Fund is a major financial supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition to an extensive list of accomplishments, Dr. Patterson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1987.
Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb
Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb received her undergraduate degree in 1943 from Tuskegee University and then pursued her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Tuskegee’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Johnson Webb would graduate with her DVM in 1949. In that same year, Dr. Johnson Webb would join Dr. Jane Hinton as the first Black woman to obtain a veterinary degree in the United States. The two would become the first Black members of the Women's Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Johnson Webb would become an Associate Professor at Tuskegee University. There she taught anatomy until 1959. She then transitioned and began teaching at North Carolina’s Agricultural and Technical State University. There she served as a professor of biology from 1959-1978. During that period, Dr. Johnson Webb became a member of the planning committee that founded the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Johnson Webb later became a legislator and the first African American woman in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Diversity is important, and it takes not just one organization, but many organizations, institutions, and associations coming together to champion initiatives that will help us understand the barriers that exist. Together we can overcome these obstacles and build unifying bridges in our communities. Below you will find links to various organizations and their resources. The various links below contain organizations that are serving our ever-growing population of veterinary professionals.
As your membership organization, the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) represents you and the profession. And while MVMA has been successful in many areas, there is still so much more we need to do. More importantly, there is so much more we need to learn. Our goal is to always ensure every single member feels valued, respected, appreciated, and heard.
So, in 2020 the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) Board of Directors approved the creation of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. With the assistance of industry consultants, Drs. Debbye Turner Bell and Porter King, the MVMA ventured forward to accomplish this goal. Dr. Debbye Turner Bell is a veterinarian, journalist, and former Miss America. She now is a consultant specializing in DEI and women’s leadership, among other topics. Dr. Jeanne Porter King is the President of TransPorter Group Inc., in Chicago. Dr. Porter King specializes in leadership development, DEI and communication training, and coaching.
This process required several phases. The first phase focused on listening and understanding our member's needs. Last year, the MVMA developed communications that assisted us in understanding any barriers our members faced. Once the survey was completed, the data was meticulously analyzed. At that point, the MVMA was able to conduct a call for volunteers.
In the last phase, the MVMA vetted the list of applicants. This process was tedious. However, it was a vital step as we wanted to carefully review each of the highly qualified applicants. The MVMA looks forward to formally announcing the DEI Committee in the coming months.