In becoming one of the first two black people to earn a medical degree from Johns Hopkins, in 1967, Robert Gamble was fulfilling what he saw as a family legacy. He grew up hearing the story of how his grandfather, Henry Floyd Gamble, graduated with a medical degree from Yale University in 1891, paying his way through school by working as a waiter and janitor.
Before entering Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Gamble had earned a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Howard University in 1963 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Gamble, whose only brother also became a physician, worked in New York as a neurosurgeon.
Globe-trotting nursing innovator, researcher and educator
Medical professionals ask patients how they feel, where it hurts and how much, and patients struggle to answer the questions. But the Painometer, a pain assessment tool developed by Fannie Gaston-Johansson, helps patients better describe their pain to medical professionals and therefore receive better care.
A commitment to improving pain and symptom management and eliminating health disparities forms the foundation for Gaston-Johansson’s career at Johns Hopkins University. Named the Elsie M. Lawler Professor in 1993, she was the first black woman to become a full professor at Johns Hopkins. In 2007, she was appointed the first chair of the School of Nursing’s Acute and Chronic Care Department. Gaston-Johansson directs the Center on Health Disparities Research, leads the international and interdisciplinary Minority Global Health Disparities Research Training Program and is co-director of a postdoctoral training program in breast cancer research for underserved and minority women.
An opportunity to study in Sweden in the late 1960s served as the catalyst for a parallel career in that country. After a variety of nursing and faculty positions there, Gaston-Johansson served from 2001 to 2005 as the first female dean of Gothenburg University, the largest university in Scandinavia. A year before she became dean, she had inaugurated the university’s doctoral program in nursing. In recognition of her achievements, in 2005 she became the first nurse elected to the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, a Swedish organization established in 1753. Gothenburg University held a two-day tribute honoring Gaston-Johansson in 2006, which included a symposium and the presentation to her of “The Apple of Knowledge.”
In Guinea, the country of his birth, Siba Grovogui excelled academically and became a judge while still in his 20s. But he soon discovered that the political structure in Guinea placed great constraints on judges and hindered justice. In moving to America and becoming an international relations and political theory professor, Grovogui found a more effective way to write and talk about justice. “I want to change how we think of ourselves as humans,” he has said. “We have to know our world. Social sciences really have to be about us in the world. Not what we in America can get from the world.”
In the process, Grovogui is helping to change the way Johns Hopkins teaches international relations. Through his commitment to the Institute for Global Studies, doctoral students have greater opportunities to do field work and to learn from diverse experts in various fields.
Catalyst for campus change—Black Student Union Pioneer
Empowered and inspired by the civil rights movement, students John F. Guess and Bruce Baker presented 12 demands to Johns Hopkins University administration in 1967. They sought such changes as increased black student enrollment and black faculty recruitment, a library section for black authors, and Johns Hopkins-Morgan State mixers.
A year later, Douglas Miles and others joined Guess and Baker to establish a Black Student Union at Johns Hopkins. Although similar groups had already formed at other university campuses, students at Johns Hopkins found their initial requests for official recognition rebuffed. The student council expressed concern that this student union would be seen as hostile and divisive. Continued and mounting pressure from Guess and Baker caused the student council to reconsider its decision and grant official status in 1969.
The Black Student Union remains an influential group at Johns Hopkins, promoting diversity, respect, and understanding. The group also hosts events and lectures, organizes community service projects and works to improve the climate for black students at Johns Hopkins.
Its founders continue to serve as prominent community leaders.
Guess, a native of Houston, became the first BSU chairman and the first black president of the university’s student council. He is chief executive officer of the Houston Museum of African American Culture, managing consultant at The Guess Group Inc., a real estate services company and a Partner in the Dallas-based Access Seminars and Consulting Services. He is an active art collector whose works have been shown in museums across the country and in Europe
For most of his career with Johns Hopkins, Joseph S. “Jakie” Hall was a convener, building and maintaining bridges between university leaders, students, the community and faculty, as well as people in the U.S. government and in other nations.
Hall came to Johns Hopkins in 1973 as dean of students, and, with the simple act of accepting this appointment, he became the first black dean on the Homewood campus. Five years later, Hall was appointed dean of academic services and in 1982 became senior assistant to the president.
In 1986, Hall took on his last position with Johns Hopkins as its vice president for institutional relations. One of his first major projects was to lead a Human Climate Task Force, charged with addressing such issues such as the status of women, academic dishonesty and faculty-student relations. Dr. Steven Muller, then university president, charged the task force with finding a way to deal with these sensitive issues in a spirit of respect, civility and cooperation. The task force presented its findings to Muller in 1987.
In his five years as vice president, Hall continued to address the issues explored by the task force and to promote minority faculty and student recruitment; coordinate the university’s response to student protests over its investments in companies doing business in South Africa; serve as liaison to the International Fellows Program of the Institute for Policy Studies; and manage university projects with the Baltimore City Public School System, such as the Johns Hopkins-Dunbar High School project.
Ambassador in the President’s Office
On her first day at work in the cafeteria at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, Minnie Hargrow looked around to see three buildings, male students wearing suits, and a student body and faculty that were all white. The year was 1946, and Hargrow and her husband had just moved to Baltimore following his return from service in World War II.
For 34 years, Hargrow-who quickly became known to all as “Miss Minnie” continued to work in the cafeteria providing physical and emotional nourishment to the university community, as she witnessed that community becoming larger and more diverse. At the same time, her desire to work in the President’s Office grew stronger.
In 1981, Hargrow was offered and accepted the position of assistant to the president, a position she kept until her retirement in 2007. Her constant smile and warmth permeated the office, yielding strong positive first impressions for countless visitors.
Architect of social justice in medicine
As a physician, mentor, professor and dean, M. Alfred Haynes, now retired, dedicated his career to reducing health disparities and improving health care systems in the U.S. and around the world. After joining the International Health Department at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1964, he went to India on an assignment in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development. Tasked with improving the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Medical College in Trivandrum, Kerala, Haynes created a system to place medical interns in rural primary health units for more meaningful field experiences. He also conducted research on background radiation and family planning services. Returning to Johns Hopkins in 1966, Haynes applied his lessons learned to create a program for teachers of community medicine and to develop a comprehensive health planning program. International students used principles learned in these programs to enhance health care around the world. In addition, Haynes published studies regarding opportunities for black health care professionals and contributed to the “Hunger USA” study. His research into racial health disparities led to the creation of the National Medical Association Foundation whose mission is to address the health needs of inner city residents. Haynes was the foundation’s first director. Haynes declined to become a full professor at Johns Hopkins so that he could accept the challenge of helping to establish the Charles Drew Postgraduate Medical School in the Watts area of Los Angeles in 1969. He ultimately became the dean and president of that school.
Gertrude J. “Trudy”
Trudy Hodges had no doubts that she should become a nurse. She knew this even as a 4- year-old. But she didn’t know exactly how she would accomplish this goal.
When she overheard someone discussing Johns Hopkins, she wrote to ask if black nursing students would be considered. The admissions office encouraged her to apply.
Throughout her years of study at Johns Hopkins, Hodges remained the only black nursing student. A special counselor was assigned to provide additional support for her. She did not socialize much with the other students and did encounter racism, but having grown up in a rural town in upstate New York, she was accustomed to being in the minority.
After graduation in 1959, Hodges became a head nurse at Johns Hopkins and, after returning to New York to earn a master’s degree, she also taught at Johns Hopkins and at the St. Agnes School of Nursing. Eventually Hodges joined the faculty of the Community College of Baltimore (now Baltimore City Community College), where she taught for 30 years. She often helped students who, like her, had dreamed of becoming nurses to achieve that goal and pursue graduate degrees.
Since retiring, Hodges has contributed to two projects that are building greater trust and collaboration between Johns Hopkins and the neighboring communities. She is an active advisory board member for Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School and serves on the advisory committee for the East Baltimore Development Inc.
Force of art
Leslie King-Hammond, graduate dean emerita of Maryland Institute College of Art, stands at the center of the arts community in Baltimore and is a powerful force far beyond this city. She is chair of the board of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture and a board member of the Creative Alliance. She has served as project director for the Ford/Phillip Morris Fellowships for Artists of Color, an executive board member for the International Association of Art Critics, president of the College Art Association, a trustee of the Baltimore School for the Arts, and a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art. She has contributed to major exhibitions and publications for Studio Museum in Harlem, the Met Life Gallery and Columbus Museum of Art.
King-Hammond arrived in Baltimore from New York in 1969. A Horizon Fellow, she earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In 1976, she was appointed dean of graduate studies at MICA. After retirement in 2008, she was named founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA, and she continues to teach art history at the school.
Health care gap closer
Identifying a problem is only the first step. On the issue of health care gaps, Thomas A. LaVeist has devoted his career to the next steps: why those gaps exist and how to close them. LaVeist is the director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and the William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The recipient of major awards from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LaVeist focuses on the areas of U.S. health and social policy; the role of race in health research; social factors contributing to mortality, longevity and life expectancy; quantitative and demographic analysis and access; and the utilization of health services. He earned a doctorate in medical sociology from the University of Michigan and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in public health at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.
At Johns Hopkins, he teaches courses in health policy, minority health, cultural competency and racial disparities in health. A frequent lecturer at other universities and professional conferences, he consults often with federal agencies and health care organizations. He has written five books, including two regarding minority health, Race, Ethnicity, and Health: A Public Health Reader and Minority Populations and Health: An Introduction to Health Disparities in the U.S. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and numerous national foundations.
Global Health Authority
When Freda C. Lewis-Hall speaks about healthcare which she does often-in corporate boardrooms, at conferences, on national boards and even on popular television shows, she addresses her audiences with the ease and authority of a physician who has risen to the top of her profession and who approaches medicine as a clinician, researcher, strategist, educator, executive and communicator.
After earning an undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins, Lewis-Hall trained as a psychiatrist and worked in academia, medical research and frontline patient care. Her career path has included serving as vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine and leading research projects for the National Institutes of Health.
Work for major global pharmaceutical companies including Vertex, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly led Lewis-Hall to Pfizer, Inc. where she now serves as executive vice president and chief medical officer. At Pfizer, she directs worldwide regulatory and safety strategy, operations and compliance; external medical affairs and communication; clinical trials excellence; quality assurance and the Center for Medical Advancement.
Lewis-Hall is a fellow of the American Academy of Psychiatry and participates on a host of boards including Harvard School of Medicine Board of Fellows; the Institute of Medicine-s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development and Translation; New York Academy of Medicine; the Society of Women-s Health Research; Save the Children and the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health. The Obama administration appointed her to its Inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Lewis-Hall has been honored in recent years as one of “Savoy” magazine-s Top Influential Women in Corporate America and the Healthcare Business Women-s Association-s Woman of the Year.
Writing about her book, a peer described Lewis-Hall as a “luminescent leader” and noted that she “has enjoyed great success throughout her career, advancing to senior-most positions within the companies where she has worked. However, these are not the achievements that define her. Rather, her passion for healing and building people is what is most outstanding.”
The year was 1970. Erich March was a freshman at Johns Hopkins. The country was nearing the end of the Vietnam War. The university had just begun to admit women. Change was all around. Still, March was struck by the lack of diversity at the college he chose to attend. Despite all the changes underway around the nation, the institution he chose to further his education seemed back then to be stuck in time.
March was accustomed to being around African Americans as a native of Baltimore. His family owns the prominent March Funeral Homes, a mainstay of the city’s black community for more than 50 years. Suddenly, he was in a “lily white” environment. As March tells it, there weren’t many black undergraduates and even fewer graduate students at JHU. He can’t recall seeing any black faculty either. But March didn’t let that hold him back. He was there to get his education, which he would use to help run his family’s business and give back to the community. When he wasn’t in class or studying, March hung out with the few black students on campus or he worked with his father in the funeral home.
After graduating from JHU in 1974 with a degree in behavioral science, March returned home to help his father run the family business. It was during this time that his civic mind kicked in. With the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. over, March wanted to help the city return to normal. One way he and his family did that was to keep the family’s anchor funeral home on East North Avenue, a section of the city that was ravaged by the riots. Other businesses had left the area or the city in general, but the March family insisted on staying and even expanding. Today, the company operates seven funeral homes – three in Baltimore, one each in the District of Columbia, Suitland and Laurel, and one in Richmond, Virginia. The family also operates King Memorial Park Cemetery in Randallstown, which March says is the largest African American cemetery on the East Coast. March is the president of the cemetery.
Several years ago, March and his then wife, Michele Speaks-March, opened Apples and Oranges Fresh Market on the corner of North Avenue and Broadway as a way of providing healthy food to underserved communities in the city. March, the vice president and chief operating officer of the family business, said through the funeral homes, he sees the toll that unhealthy diets were taking on the black community. “Potato chips and soda. I see obesity and other diseases. I see it in my embalming room.” Sadly, the store didn’t make it. Last year, it closed its doors. “We couldn’t crack the addiction to fried food and carryout. Grease and salt.”
March, who is also an accomplished artist, and his family, are still active in the community. They proudly give scholarships to the two historically black secondary schools in the city – Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass high schools. And they plan to keep their anchor funeral home on East North Avenue where March sees it as part of the revitalization of the historic corridor. “This is my home. How can I not be involved?”
Victor McCrary arrived at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab in 2003, having served as Division Chief at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST). While at NIST, McCrary received the Commerce Department’s Gold Medal for the development of global standards for electronic books, which paved the commercialization path for today’s e-book readers.
At APL, McCrary held the position of Business Area Executive for Science & Technology. He was responsible for managing a more than $10 million internal research portfolio and evaluated research and development projects matching APL’s strategic objectives. He also maintained relationships within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and fostered relationships with national and international scientific organizations, including the American Chemical Society, to increase APL’s global presence.
Among his many awards, Dr. McCrary was named Scientist of the Year at the 2011 Black Engineer of the Year national conference. In nominating him for the award, Bharat Doshi, head of the Laboratory’s Milton Eisenhower Research Center, wrote, “Dr. McCrary has made outstanding technical and managerial contributions to vital programs for the government. In addition, he has been actively promoting STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education among minorities and is a spokesman for the cause nationally.”
McCrary earned an executive master of science and engineering degree from the Wharton School of Business and the Graduate School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in physical chemistry from Howard University. In 2012, Dr. McCrary left JHU to become Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University.
Answer seeker in black and white
A sociologist who joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1994, Katrina Bell McDonald devotes her research to studying challenges facing black women, families and children. With colleague Caitlin Cross-Barnet, she is examining the differences of marriage among native blacks, black Africans and blacks of Caribbean descent, including the impact of religion, concepts of “traditional marriage” and the stronger earning power of many black women. Her book, Embracing Sisterhood: Class, Identity, and Contemporary Black Women, was published in 2007. Based on interviews with 88 black women of all ages, it explores how class and social background impact “black sisterhood.”
McDonald’s earlier research delved into such issues as activism among middle-class black women, barriers to kin support for urban black teen mothers and downward residential mobility among disadvantaged black women, as well as how life and educational outcomes are affected by race.
McDonald, a former associate dean of multicultural affairs, is an associate professor and an associate of the Hopkins Population Center and the Center for Africana Studies. She has been actively involved in shaping the university, through the development of new courses and initiatives, including the Center for Africana Studies.
Catalyst for campus change—Black Student Union Pioneer
In the midst of the turbulence and change of the 1960s, black students at Johns Hopkins University sought to strengthen their unity and identity. By 1966, when Baltimore native Douglas Miles enrolled as an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins, he had already witnessed the Montgomery bus boycott and the integration of Little Rock’s schools, and had heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. share his dream for racial justice at the March on Washington.
Shaped by that history, Miles and others joined main organizers John F. Guess and Bruce Baker in 1968 to establish a Black Student Union at Johns Hopkins. While similar groups had already formed at other university campuses, students at Johns Hopkins found their initial requests for official recognition rebuffed. University administrators expressed concern that this student union would be seen as hostile and divisive. Led by Guess and Baker, the BSU was officially recognized in 1969.
Today, Miles continues to serve as a prominent community and civil rights leader in Baltimore. Now a bishop, Miles pastors at Koinonia Baptist Church and is a co-chair of the advocacy group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD).
Role model for future heroes
With a train ticket in hand and dreams in mind, Kelly Miller headed north from South Carolina in 1880 and into a life as a successful mathematician, college dean, author and education advocate. Along the way, he became Johns Hopkins University’s first black student. Born in 1863 to a free man and a slave woman, Miller drew inspiration from what he saw as his own “band of heroes,” northern teachers who had come south to teach black children after the Civil War. A scholarship allowed Miller to attend Howard University, which in turn led to a part-time job with prominent mathematician Simon Newcomb.
After Newcomb became a Johns Hopkins faculty member, Miller sought his assistance in pursuing graduate studies at the university. His application to graduate school in 1887 prompted the college president and trustees to consider the founder’s Quaker background and his commitment to a hospital and university open to all. Miller’s application served as a mirror, forcing university leadership to confront their values and principles, and though there would be many years between Miller and the next black student, Miller’s admission helped open the door for all students of color at Johns Hopkins.
Although financial circumstances prevented Miller from completing a JHU degree, he returned to Howard, earned a master’s degree and a law degree, and built an illustrious career. Never forgetting his “band of heroes,” Miller himself became one, a tireless supporter of quality education for blacks. He died in 1939.