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Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr.

Surgeon, professor, medical director, and contributor to community service, Asa G. Yancey, Sr., M.D. was born to Daisy L. Sherard Yancey and Arthur H. Yancey on August 19, 1916 in Atlanta, Georgia. Daisy was a housewife, and Arthur worked as a U.S. Post Office mail carrier. Mr. Arthur H. Yancey wrote an autobiographical book in 1959 entitled Interpositionulification: What the Negro May Expect. In 1933, Asa G. Yancey graduated as valedictorian from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. He earned his B.S. degree with honors four years later from Morehouse College. Yancey was one of four African American students in his class at the University of Michigan Medical School where his elder brother, Bernise, graduated from medical school in 1930.

Upon receiving his M.D. degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1941, Yancey first completed a general rotating internship from 1941 to 1942 at what is now Metropolitan General Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. It was from this experience that he decided to pursue general surgery training. He served as First Lieutenant in The United States Army Medical Corp. before he returned to complete his residency in surgery at Freedmen’s Hospital, Howard University, where he trained under the guidance of Dr. Charles R. Drew. In 1945, he was a surgical fellow at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Boston and then became an instructor of surgery at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Also about this time, Yancey started his involvement with the National Medical Association (NMA), the largest and oldest national organization for African American physicians.

Following his time in Boston and Nashville, he served as the Chief of Surgery at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama and then the Hughes Spalding Pavilion of Grady Memorial Hospital, Emory Univerisity where he established the first accredited general surgery training program for black surgeons. With his return to Atlanta in 1958, Yancey was invited to join the faculty at Emory University School of Medicine where he became an Instructor of Surgery in 1964. In 1972, Yancey was appointed medical director of Grady Memorial Hospital and associate dean at Emory University Medical School. He was appointed full Professor of Surgery at Emory University Medical School in 1975. He continued to work at the Emory University Clinic and Grady Memorial Hospital until his retirement in 1989.

Yancey has contributed numerous articles to the academic surgical community, and he has been recognized with many awards His article, “A Modification of the Swenson Operation for Congenital Megacolon," published in a 1952 issue of The Journal of the National Medical Association, describes a surgical procedure that preceded Soave’s publication by ten years. Yancey has also written articles exploring issues of medical care, health care, and poverty including "Medical Education in Atlanta and Health Care of Black Minority and Low Income People," and "The Challenge of Providing Health Care for the Poor: Public Hospital Perspective". His book Portrayal of a Lifespan describes life as it was for him in the 21st Century. Yancey received the Bennie Service Award, in 1990 and he receivedan Honorary Doctor of Science from Morehouse College and Howard University. . The Society of Black Academic Surgeons established a lectureship in the name of Asa G. Yancey, Sr., M.D. The Emory University Health System recognized his professional contributions over the years by naming a healthcare facility, The Asa G. Yancey Health Clinic, in northwest Atlanta.

Yancey was married to the late Carolyn “Marge” E. Dunbar and they have four children: Arthur H. Yancey II, M.D, Carolyn L. Yancey, M.D., Caren L Yancey-Covington (deceased), and Asa G. Yancey, Jr., M.D.

Dr. Asa G. Yancey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 19, 2012.

Dr. Asa Yancey passed away on March 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2012.056

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/19/2012

Last Name

Yancey

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

G.

Schools

Edmund Asa Ware School

Booker T. Washington High School

Morehouse College

Michigan Medicine

First Name

Asa

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

YAN04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sea Coasts of Alabama, the Gulf of Mexico

Favorite Quote

Let's Get On With It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

8/19/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Death Date

3/9/2013

Short Description

Surgeon, medical professor, and medical director Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. (1916 - 2013 ) served as the medical director of Grady Memorial Hospital and dean at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He also created the first accredited surgical training program for black doctors in Georgia.

Employment

Freedmen's Hospital, Howard University

United States Marine Hospital

Meharry Medical College

Tuskegee Veteran's Administration Hospital

Hughes Spalding Pavilion of Grady Memorial Hospital

Emory University

Grady Memorial Hospital

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers his father's personality and book

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. talks about his early schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers his elementary school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his personality as a young child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls his family's home

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his relationship with his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers his childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes the race relations in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls enrolling at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls his residency at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. talks about his salary as a medical intern

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his experiences in the U.S. Army, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his experiences in the U.S. Army, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls working as a surgeon in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes the community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his role at the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remember the death of Charles R. Drew, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. remember the death of Charles R. Drew, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. talks about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes Dr. William Montague Cobb

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls the history of Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls becoming the chief of surgery at the Hughes Spalding Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. talks about the conditions at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls serving on the Atlanta Board of Education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes the achievements of the Atlanta Board of Education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls joining the staff of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. talks about the closure of black hospitals

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. shares his views on public healthcare

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

9$8

DATitle
Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. recalls enrolling at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. describes the community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Transcript
Now, what happened when you graduated from Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia]?$$Well (pause), I caught the train (laughter) I caught the train and went to Detroit [Michigan] and I had a cousin there, a Mr. A.W. Prince [ph.] and I was just, my father [Arthur H. Yancey] wrote Mr. Prince and asked if I could live with him and Mr. Prince said, "Yes, I'd be glad to have him." So I was a roomer in Mr. Prince's home and I walked around Detroit and walked the streets looking for a job and that was in the days of, the Great Depression was still going on and a job was mighty hard to find, but I finally found a little job in a furniture store and my job was to keep the stock room straight with the furniture and keep it ready to place in the showroom to see. And, of course, while I was doing that I decided to go out to Ann Arbor [Michigan] and look around a little bit. My brother [Bernise A. Yancey] had finished medical school out there at the University of Michigan and, so I took the train or bus or whatever was moving at the time, and went out there and decided I'd go by the dean's office and tell him I wanted to go to medical school (laughter). He said, "You what?" He said, "You haven't even applied." I'm sure I realized that but that didn't make any difference. I'm here now and I want to go to medical school. He said, "When?" I said, "This September." That was maybe in July or August. He said, "No way. Just forget it." He said, "We took this class and decided who was going to be a member of this class last March and here you come in here in July and talk about you want to go to medical school. Just forget it." (Laughter) So I said, "Thank you very much," and left. And I knew I had a pretty good transcript at Morehouse and probably better than a lot that he had (laughter) so I went on home and wrote Morehouse and asked them to send my transcript to the dean there at, A.C. Furstenberg, at the University of Michigan school of medicine [University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan], which they did, of course, and when I figured my letter had time to get to Morehouse and Morehouse had time to send in a transcript, I went back out there to see the dean and he said, "Well, you're here again," and I said, "That's right, here I am." He said, "What do you want?" I said, "I want to go to medical school," (laughter). "When do you want to go?" "I want to go this July. I want to go this September," and here it is July. He said, "Forget it," (laughter). We took this class--I said, "Now wait a minute." I said, "I have my transcripts and you can see it." But when he got it, he realized it was better than a whole lot that he had and I knew it would be so he says, "Just wait a minute." He sat there a minute or two and I sat there a minute or two and he said, he reached into the drawer and pulled out a blank form, he said, "Fill this out and come on to school" (laughter).$Tell us about Mound Bayou [Mississippi].$$Mound Bayou--$$Yeah.$$--was an all colored town. The word colored was popular at the time. It was a small town and they had a, back in those days our people always joined a burial society and they'd pay twenty-five, fifty cents a week so that when they passed away, they would have enough money in that pool to get a decent looking casket and have a decent service. So, that was, and Mound Bayou was an all Negro town and that was a popular word at the time, and it had a Negro mail and it was just a, the people in the surrounding community and it was just houses here and there and farms and so forth, and the Mississippi Delta country, the land was just as flat as the top of that table, and the people put their nickels and dimes and quarters and fifty cent pieces together and built, and they had a burial organization. That was what it's for, it's a big house there, but after many years had passed, they found they had a lot of money, so they decided to build a hospital and they built the Taborian Hospital [Mound Bayou Community Hospital, Mound Bayou, Mississippi] and the idea was that the people who were members of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor [International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor] would continue to pay their yearly policy, but they could go to the hospital and get treatment free at the time of service, and they did that, but the chief surgeon that they hired to take care of people began to try to collect fees from the patients. Some of them would pay, some of them got mad and objected. So, they came to a parting of the ways and that's how they invited us from Meharry [Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee] to come down and help out, because he wouldn't treat the ones who wouldn't pay him. So, we went down and became chief in the hospital, so I was running the hospital and he built a little tent across the street and took his friends over there. We just ignored him and paid no attention. We just kept running the hospital.$$Sir, what was this doctor's name? What was his name?$$Dr. Howard [T.R.M. Howard]. He finally moved to Memphis [Tennessee] and practiced there for a while until he retired, I guess, I don't know.$$Okay. Is he any relation to the Dr. Howard that was involved in civil rights down there? Is he related to the Dr. Howard from Mississippi that was involved in civil rights?$$I don't remember anything about that.$$Yeah, there was a Dr. Howard from Mississippi that moved to Chicago [Illinois] who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement down there. Famous Dr. Howard.$$He did go to Memphis and then to Chicago, and I can't tell you about the other--I don't know anything about that.