Skip to Main Content

Black History at Duke Health

A guide to archival materials about Black history at the Duke Health

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers was part of the original staff of Duke Hospital. He was known as the much beloved and admired "right hand" man of School of Medicine dean Wilburt C. Davison who called him his "assistant dean". 

Part of the Photograph Collection, and also available on MEDspace.

Key Dates

Below is a selection of key dates important to the history of African Americans at Duke Medicine.

  • 1930  –  Duke Hospital opens on July 21. It admits African American patients, although the facilities are segregated and the hospital has fewer designated beds for blacks than for whites.
  • 1930  – Duke hires its first African American employees. Donald Love, who worked in pathology from 1930 until his retirement in 1974, is considered the first African American hire.
  • 1948  –  Duke’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program begins. Although there were already several others in the state, Duke’s is the only one in North Carolina established exclusively for training African American nurses.
  • 1963  – The School of Medicine admits the first African American student, Dr. Delano Meriwether. He graduated with honors in 1967.
  • 1963-1965  – Duke Hospital is integrated.
  • 1966 -- Dr. Jacqueline Johnson Jackson, the first tenured female black faculty member in the School of Medicine, joins Duke as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.
  • 1968- Prentiss Harrison is the first African-American graduate of the Duke Physician Assistant Program, and the first African-American physician assistant in the nation.
  • 1970  –  Dr. Charles Johnson joins the Duke PDC and is appointed assistant professor in the Department of Medicine.
  • 1970 - Joyce Nichols is the first woman to graduate from the Duke Physician Assistant Program, and also is the first female African-American graduate of the program.
  • 1989  – The first meeting of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons is held at Duke.
  • 1991  – Duke begins new research program on health of black American entitled, “Health, Behavior and Aging in Black Americans,” believed to be the first such program in the country.
  • 2018 -- Jacqueline S. Barnett, DHSc, MSHS, PA-C, becomes first African-American program director of the Duke Physician Assistant Program.

Key Figures

Below is a selection of African American firsts at Duke Medicine, arranged alphabetically.

  • Onye Akwari – First black professor of surgery at Duke’s School of Medicine, 1978
  • Brenda Armstrong – First African American to serve as a full professor in pediatrics in the School of Medicine and the first to be board certified in pediatric cardiology in the U.S.
  • Jacqueline S. Barnett- First African American director of the Physician Assistant Program
  • Haywood Brown – First African American chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical Center, 2002
  • James Carter – First African American professor of psychiatry at Duke’s School of Medicine, 1971
  • Charles Curry – First African American fellow in Adult Cardiology at Duke’s School of Medicine, 1982
  • Sayde Curry – First African American woman postgraduate trainee (Gastroenterology), 1969
  • Kafui Dzirasa – First Black neurobiology Ph.D. student, 2007
  • Donna Allen Harris – First African American School of Nursing student, 1967
  • Prentiss L. Harrison – Nation’s first African American Physician Assistant; graduate of the Duke program, 1968
  • Eddie L. Hoover – First African American house officer, 1969
  • Danny O. Jacobs – First African American chair of Surgery at the Medical Center, 2003
  • Jacquelyne J. Jackson- First tenured female black faculty member in Duke's School of Medicine
  • Charles Johnson – First African American fellow in Endocrinology at Duke’s School of Medicine, 1967, and first African American faculty member, 1970
  • W. Delano Meriwether – First African American student admitted to Duke's School of Medicine, 1963   
  • Donald T. Moore – First Black physician to hold clinical appointment on the Duke hospital staff, 1966
  • Jean Spaulding – First African American woman to graduate from Duke’s School of Medicine, 1972
  • Joanne A. P. Wilson – First African American woman, and the first woman, to serve as a full professor in the Duke Department of Internal Medicine, 1986