By Regennia N. Williams, PhD
In recognition of the fact that April is National Minority Health Month, and in light of recent reports of the disproportionately high morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans during the COVID-19 global pandemic, I invite readers to join me in examining the role of African American physicians in the history of the healthcare profession.
I am convinced that the story of Cleveland’s Dr. Middleton H. Lambright Jr. has lessons for the world. Many biographical sketches of Dr. Lambright mention that this Glenville High School alumnus studied at Tennessee’s Meharry Medical College, was one of the co-founders of Glenville’s Forest City Hospital (1957)—where he became Chief of Surgery; that he served as president of the Metropolitan General Hospital Medical Staff, and was a member of the Board of Trustees of Cleveland State University and President of the local affiliate of the American Medical Association in the 1960s.
None of the biographical statements that I reviewed, however, included the fact that, in 1971, he was one of the co-founders of the group that would later be known as the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Dr. Lambright’s willingness to say yes to the preservation of Black History suggests that he understood the significance of his work with Forest City Hospital, a product of the Black Hospital Movement and an institution located in a neighborhood that was over 90% Black by 1960.
Making a Place for Ourselves: The Black Hospital Movement, 1920-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1995), Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble devotes an entire chapter, “Cleveland: A Black Hospital at Last,” to a discussion of the history of Forest City Hospital. Having previewed the book, I now look forward to reading the entire volume and learning more about the work of Dr. Middleton H. Lambright, Jr. and Dr. Middleton H. Lambright, Sr., two African American physicians who were active in the Black Hospital Movement in Cleveland.
*For more information of Cleveland’s Glenville Neighborhood and African American sites historical memory, please see:
Frazier, Nishani. Harambee City: The Congress of Racial Equality in Cleveland and the Rise of Black Power Populism. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2017.
Leo A. Jackson Papers, Western Reserve Historical Society. The following abstract is included in the catalog description:
Leo Jackson (1920-1996) was an African American attorney and appeals court judge in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a member of Cleveland’s city council from 1957-1970 where he represented the Glenville neighborhood and Ward 24. The collection consists of affidavits, agendas, applications, budgets, campaign literature, campaign signs, case files, certificates, charts, correspondence, court documents, expense statements, flyers, forms, journal entries, judicial opinions, lists, magazine articles, magazine clippings, magazines/publications, manuals, maps, meeting minutes, memoranda, newsletters, newspaper articles, newspaper clippings, notes, notices, ordinances, petitions, reports, resolutions, rosters, speeches/statements/remarks, syllabi, thesis, and transcripts. The collection also includes seven audiotapes, four film reels, 37 black and white photographs, and 12 color photographs.
The finding aid for the Leo Jackson’s Papers (22 containers and 2 oversize folders) is available online HERE.