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Dr. Clinton Warner

Dr. Clinton E. Warner, Jr. saw action on the front lines of two of the twentieth century's most transformative struggles. Born in Atlanta on July 11, 1924, Warner fought in World War II and became an active civil rights participant.

Warner's post-secondary education was interrupted by the onset of World War II. From 1942 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Army and participated in the D-Day invasion of France that turned the tide of the war in Europe. Warner then returned home to study at Morehouse College, where he received his M.A. in 1948. He earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical School in Nashville, graduating summa cum laude in 1951. Following an internship in Chicago and surgical training in St. Louis, Warner entered private practice in Atlanta as a surgeon specializing in breast diseases.

Warner also became heavily involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He purchased his first home on Fielding Lane in Southwest Atlanta, defying the Berlin Wall-like Peyton Road Barricades erected in 1962 by Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. to segregate the community. Warner's act of resistance initiated a campaign for fair housing that opened housing in Southwest Atlanta to African Americans. Warner was also a plaintiff in a 1963 lawsuit that desegregated Emory University and the Fulton County Medical and Dental Society. As the civil rights movement gained momentum, Warner contributed medical and financial services to student activists and was jailed twice in hotel protests in Atlanta. In 1967, he founded the first minority medical surgical group, the Atlanta Surgical Professional Association.

An active member of several medical and civic organizations, Warner has been recognized several times for his contributions to medicine and the community. He served as honorary co-chairman of the Medical Support Group for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and serves on the board of trustees of Morehouse College. Warner retired from medicine in 1996. He and his wife, Sally Johnson, have one son, Clinton E. Warner, III, and live in Atlanta.

Dr. Clinton Warner passed away on June 30, 2012.

Accession Number

A2003.181

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2003

Last Name

Warner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

East Depot High School

Morehouse College

Meharry Medical College

First Name

Clinton

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

WAR05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Accept, But Verify.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

7/11/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans (Baked)

Death Date

6/30/2012

Short Description

Civil rights activist and surgeon Dr. Clinton Warner (1924 - 2012 ) served in the U.S. Military, facing action in World War II's D-Day invasion, and was active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1284,41:26420,313:44100,560:109625,1267:109965,1290:110730,1302:114895,1378:138820,1716:139180,1973:167460,2242:198740,2581$0,0:1570,23:2380,33:16895,254:25480,404:27803,444:50116,822:80278,1185:80902,1194:82852,1424:94498,1545:103056,1699:156601,2218:160790,2330:179598,2502:197220,2756:208884,2913:236810,3270:246742,3411:255646,3644:265332,3737:285350,3922
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Clinton Warner's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Clinton Warner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Clinton Warner identifies his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Clinton Warner recounts the success of his maternal ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Clinton Warner describes his family's public service efforts and family farm

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Clinton Warner details his maternal aunts' and uncles' educational and professional accomplishments

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Clinton Warner explains how his maternal grandfather learned to read

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Clinton Warner describes his mother's life and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Clinton Warner relates his parents' childhoods, education, and marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Clinton Warner talks his father's position at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Clinton Warner recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Clinton Warner shares more memories from his early childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Clinton Warner describes the development of his race consciousness

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Clinton Warner recalls his experiences in school as the principal's son

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Clinton Warner talks about his affinity for the piano

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Clinton Warner reflects upon his religious views

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Clinton Warner talks about his path towards becoming a doctor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Clinton Warner details his experience during and views on World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Clinton Warner details his experience during and views on World War II, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Clinton Warner recalls his time at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Clinton Warner recounts his time at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Clinton Warner describes segregation in Chicago, Illinois inside and outside of the hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Clinton Warner details the final steps of his entry into the medical profession

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Clinton Warner describes the challenges he faced entering the surgical field

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Clinton Warner talks about black colleagues in his medical field

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Clinton Warner reflects upon how the medical profession has changed over time, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Clinton Warner reflects upon how the medical profession has changed over time, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Clinton Warner talks about fighting for civil rights through the medical profession, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Clinton Warner talks about fighting for civil rights through the medical profession, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Clinton Warner describes his involvement in a legal suit against segregation in the medical profession and integrating the neighborhood of Southwest Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Clinton Warner talks about integrating Southwest Atlanta, Georgia despite resistance from the mayor and racist neighbors

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Clinton Warner talks about moving to Georgia from St. Louis, Missouri and being met with racism

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Clinton Warner talks about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Clinton Warner recalls forming the Atlanta Surgical Professional Association

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Clinton Warner talks about Sigma Pi Phi, otherwise known as the Boule, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Clinton Warner talks about Sigma Pi Phi, otherwise known as the Boule, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Clinton Warner comments on the Boule's secrecy and changes in the group

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Clinton Warner talks about his involvement with a black bank in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Clinton Warner talks about how he became chairman of the board of trustees at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Clinton Warner talks about HistoryMaker Louis Sullivan

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
Clinton Warner talks about his path towards becoming a doctor
Clinton Warner describes the challenges he faced entering the surgical field
Transcript
Sir, when did you get, I guess, the idea that you might want to be a doctor?$$That's a good question. Can I preface it? Can I tell you what--under that control that I have with my family up to age fifteen when I left to go to college. And I guess sixteen came on at that, shortly after that. I realized I was under control because I saw what other children my age were doing. Things I would, got to say I'd like to be doing, but, "I can't do that, I know the difference." And, and when I got to college [at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia] I decided that I was going to do all those things. I did poorly in college the first two years. The first thing I did was get drunk. I started smoking. In spite of my shyness I would chase women a little bit, sometimes I didn't know what to say to them and all that stuff, but....$$This was at Morehouse, right?$$Um-hum. Morehouse in 1940, I came out the same year that Benjamin Mays came as the president. And I did that two years just like that. And I wanted--after the second year, I told my parents I wasn't going back to school. I wasn't doing well. I was going to drop out. It helped that I discovered I could get a job at the war department, so might have -- yeah, '42 [1942]. Pearl Harbor was what they were going...They were hiring people for "fourteen-forty-four," fourteen hundred and forty-four dollars a year, a job in the war department. It was a clerical job, (unclear). But I applied for that and got. That was more money than I'd ever heard of, probably more--almost as much as my father was making, $1,444. They didn't like it, but I told them that's what I was going to do, particularly when I got accepted. And I went on, spent a year there, and got drafted. I told them the reason I was dropping out of college because I'm going to get drafted anyway. So let me go and do some things. But, but that was my wild years, wild. And I got drafted, but--now I'm back to the question. At that time I thought I wanted to be a dentist. I wanted--there was only a few things you could strive for as far as a black person, preaching, I didn't want to do that; teaching, I didn't want to do that; physician; I don't think law was available to me in my venue at that time and I never thought of it. I decided I wanted to be a physician. And I got there and I found out how hard it was to do, and said, "Ok, I'll just switch over to dentistry, I'll take the easy road," that, that was my attitude then, a complete reversal. But when I came out of the [U.S.] Army, I knew I had to go back to college.$I was referring to the situation where I found that blacks in this town [Chicago, Illinois], I guess everywhere, I don't know, they're not--they weren't used to hearing about a black surgeon who did only surgery. And thought that--and it was true, that most of the black surgery was done by whites. There was a surgeon here that preceded me. He was not certified, but he was a good surgeon. And as I made my in-roads here, he invited me to join him in practice. However, I was certified and I just wouldn't do that, because he said, "What I want you to do is take night calls for me. And I was scuffling, and maybe help out in surgery sometime, and deliver babies. I said, "Doc, I can't do that." And then he understood why, but he tried to pressure me, and I didn't do it. We remained friends. I'd help him out from time to time, and--but I wouldn't join him in his practice, because he told me, "You can't make it unless you join me", because, I wasn't, you know, I wasn't getting many referrals and all, but gradually I got the trust, I guess, or something and got.... Shortly after I got here it was time for me to apply for the American College of Surgeons, which is a national organization and membership, and that is just the--grouped in the highest thing you could get. One of the requirements was to have three members of the College observe you operate and talk to you and so forth. And I, and I went that route and asked three of my white colleagues to come over. They, they would come to black hospitals and operate on their black patients. And I got to know them, but none had the time. I was refused; they said they don't have the time to do that. So the next year, I went to a meeting and I'd go--I started going to those meetings as a resident, like a student going to these meetings, in Chicago [Illinois]--was the first one I went to. They met in Atlantic City [New Jersey], and I was in this quandary, where nobody would give me the first step, because I knew I could make it into that organization once I got over the step. I ran into Loyal Davis, Loyal Davis, who, who is the father of Nancy Reagan, who used a different name then. He was big shot in surgery. In fact, he was president of the American College of Surgeons at that time. He also published the official journal of surgery, which is (unclear). I still take it. Anyway, I cornered him on the boardwalk in Atlantic City on a lunch break, and he listened to me. He said, "I'm surprised, I didn't know that was happening." He said, "Let me see what I can do about it." I said, "Thank you." I didn't ask him anything, I was just telling him the problems I was having "any suggestions" or something to that--it was a brief conversation. But, within weeks of getting back I got invited to come down, they were going to pass up that--since the surgeons wouldn't agree to come in the room with me, and I'd go before three-member, white panel to interview. And I went, and they were (unclear). I knew them. They were obvious--they hardly even accepted black patients. Lawrence Butler McDowell's [ph.] father was one of them. I, I'm not going to give you the names--he was a local politician. He got killed. But anyway, they grilled me, not about medicine, but about ethics and, and things like that. At the time there was a big thing about fee spreading for surgeons. In other words, if you sent me your patients, I'd pay you some money. I never did that. And, and they just grilled me and said, "We hear the black doctors over there do it all the time." I said, "Well, you heard wrong." You know, I just--and I went on through that, but those were the type of questions--not my capability as a surgeon because they knew that. I had been there long enough. And the next thing I knew, I got, got the approval to join and come up to Chicago again and be inducted, back in '64 [1964] or something, whatever.

Dr. Virgil Norris

Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Virgil C. Norris has practiced medicine in the Palm Beach area for forty years. He graduated with his B.S. from Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, in 1950. He went on to study medicine at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee and received his M.D. in 1959. Dr. Norris has enjoyed a twenty-seven year career as a surgeon and general practitioner for the Palm Beach community.

Norris was certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1975 and became a fellow at the American College of Surgeons in 1977. He has been in private practice since 1969 and has served on staff at Bethesda Memorial Hospital and Delray Community Hospital. He is a member of Palm Beach County Medical Society, Florida Medical Association, American Medical Association, the National Medical Association and the American College of Surgeons.

Aside from practicing medicine, Norris takes an active role in his community. He has served as president of the Delray Club, Masonic Lodge, Naciremas Club and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; and as a member of the NAACP, ACLU, Delray Board of Realtors and St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Norris received the First Annual Black Award for Medicine and Health Care in 1989. He and his wife Barbara have six children.

Accession Number

A2002.062

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/17/2002

Last Name

Norris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

FAMU Developmental Research School

Lincoln High School

Hampton University

Meharry Medical College

First Name

Virgil

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

NOR01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Work hard and play hard.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cereal

Death Date

10/29/2014

Short Description

Community activist and surgeon Dr. Virgil Norris ( - 2014 ) has been in private practice since 1969 and has served on staff at Bethesda Memorial Hospital and Delray Community Hospital. Norris is a member of Palm Beach County Medical Society, Florida Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. He has served as president of the Delray Club, Masonic Lodge, Naciremas Club and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Employment

Delete

V.A. Lakeside Medical Center

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1080,23:3420,71:7067,111:12655,169:40188,482:40644,487:44930,511:52040,601:57606,639:83390,934:83746,939:84814,955:89620,1050:108700,1263:120072,1368:120656,1377:125460,1430:133087,1563:135226,1598:136156,1609:138016,1656:149718,1717:150246,1728:156826,1763:157849,1774:169073,1893:169802,1902:170855,1921:172961,1958:173285,1963:174824,1991:181098,2052:181374,2057:181788,2065:184768,2087:185760,2096:191960,2158:199323,2217:212070,2324:213690,2349:222780,2443:223160,2448:224395,2469:225915,2494:226390,2500:234700,2595:240135,2685:244559,2777:244954,2783:245349,2789:258680,2913:260528,2943:274700,3111$0,0:1368,27:1824,34:3268,73:4180,87:7285,119:7870,132:8455,142:8715,147:8975,152:9755,165:11190,180:13010,189:13437,197:13864,205:14657,224:15084,232:19956,273:33050,410:35180,430:38448,465:38994,479:43960,504:44830,562:55936,690:56560,699:56950,705:57730,717:58432,730:58900,739:59524,748:67190,822:68900,863:70250,878:71060,890:71780,901:72230,907:77380,929:78343,940:88690,1006:89378,1015:101180,1211:101820,1221:106462,1284:107065,1296:108204,1324:114010,1404:120999,1516:129330,1610:129855,1619:130380,1627:130980,1636:131655,1647:134360,1674:141745,1795:148747,1925:150124,1956:154822,2043:164005,2156:167210,2212:168560,2226
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Virgil Norris interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Virgil Norris's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Virgil Norris lists his family members

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Virgil Norris remembers his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Virgil Norris remembers his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Virgil Norris recalls growing up as an only child

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Virgil Norris describes the black community in Tallahassee

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Virgil Norris shares his earliest memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Virgil Norris recounts his elementary and high school years

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Virgil Norris lists his extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Virgil Norris remembers the people who influenced him

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Virgil Norris shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Virgil Norris describes himself as a student

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Virgil Norris recalls his parents' separation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Virgil Norris recounts his experiences at Hampton University

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Virgil Norris discusses his childhood church activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Virgil Norris describes himself as an undergraduate

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Virgil Norris remembers his medical school aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Virgil Norris recalls his military service

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Virgil Norris recounts his medical school years

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Virgil Norris discusses his medical practice in Del Ray, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Virgil Norris recalls his early years at Bethesda Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Virgil Norris describes the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on his community

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Virgil Norris recounts his residency in general surgery

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Virgil Norris illustrates his experiences as a surgeon and general practitioner

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Virgil Norris discusses the problems with HMOs, particularly for African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Virgil Norris talks about how to educate patients to seek preventative and necessary medical care

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Virgil Norris shares his opinion on how to fight AIDS

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Virgil Norris discusses problems in healthcare for African Americans

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Virgil Norris talks about the opportunities and difficulties for young black doctors

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Virgil Norris considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Virgil Norris recounts his residency in general surgery
Virgil Norris talks about how to educate patients to seek preventative and necessary medical care
Transcript
Now, you go to Dayton, Ohio to the VA Center.$$Yeah.$$Okay, talk about that. And what, what takes you there?$$Well, I, I told you I wanted to be a general surgeon, and that my model for that was Matthew Walker. And I don't mind telling you that I, I decided to go to--as you know, the VA [veterans affairs] hospital is a federal hospital. And I picked that in nineteen--I was accepted--I signed a contract in 1964 to go in 1965. I got accepted at several more hospitals, but at that time, the country being where it is, I chose a federal hospital because it would--as I said before, it came under federal law, you know. And I thought that that was the safest place to go, a federal hospital, whether I went to the VA in Dayton, Ohio or whether I went to the VA in the Bronx [New York, New York], you know. I also got accepted at Harlem Hospital and several other hospitals, but as I say, I, in 1964 or '65 [1965], I thought the best place to go was probably a federal hospital.$$And you went there for general surgery?$$Yeah.$$And how was that experience, when you're attempting now to become a surgeon?$$A tremendous learning experience; wide range. It's, this program was sponsored by Ohio State University [Columbus, Ohio] and had a lot of experiences, rotation through a trauma hospital in, in Dayton called, they called it St. E's, but it's St. Elizabeth, rotating through Ohio State University's Children's Hospital, which was a, a tremendous experience.$$And you were there for four years [1965-1969]?$$Yeah.$$And are there any experiences that you still carry--what were the largest influences during that four-year period for you, that you still carry with you, during that time?$$Well, in trauma you have to be able to make a timely and accurate decision. Things have changed a whole lot since I was in training. For example, you have the CT [computed tomography] scans now that can make you, help you make a more accurate diagnosis. And this even happened in Delray. A patient is living today that had a ruptured aneurism that we were able to make a diagnosis of a ruptured cerebral aneurism and get her out of here to Jackson Memorial without a CT scan of her head. But you had to do a lot of thinking and, and things have moved on. But this, just a tremendous experience in taking care of a lot of people with a lot of big problems, and you had to be able to do it on a moment's notice and do it well.$$Now, what was your first, what was your first surgery like? The first time you--?$$Oh, well, you start out with little things like hernias.$$Were there any nerves? Were there any--?$$No, I don't think I was nervous because I had been, I had been helping people a long time. I guess it's like--and then you have, you just change the sides of the table where you're not the assistant, you're the surgeon, you know. So it's, it's kind of, it's a, it's not a perfect analogy, but say rather than--you can bring it back to driving a car. You can sit in the, next to the driver as long as you want to, but in order to drive the car, you have to get in the driver's seat. That's all.$Now, another question I do really want to ask you, as regards to African Americans and their healthcare, in regards to many African Americans feel very apprehensive about going to doctors, seeking medical care, preventative medical care and things of that sort. A, why is that? And B, how do you change it?$$That's a very difficult question. There are a lot of people who are afraid of preventative medical care. Some of it's education, and I guess the biggest part of it is education. For example, people who are hesitate about, or ladies who are hesitant about getting Pap Smears for cervical cancer, hesitant about getting mammograms. Some of them don't want to know. Men who are hesitant about getting the test done to rule out prostate cancer. Now, some of them don't know. Some of them are afraid. But the biggest factor is to overcome it and let them know that they can be helped and their lives can be saved or extended. They can avoid in essence of being sick. Let's say, for example, prostate cancer in a man, if you get it before it, while it's with--confined within the capsule of the gland, the--disease can be eradicated, but once it get out of the gland, it's, you, you decrease your chance of surviving. And there's just men who don't know that they can, this can be diagnosed early, and that's about it. And that's education.$$So you think that's the root cause of African Americans who don't, who have fears of hospitals and--?$$Nah, I'm not sure that's the root cause, but it may be beyond me. But there's, a large percentage of it is education.$$So what is the, what are the roles of African American doctors to change that? What do they have to do to get the healthcare--?$$Educate your patients and educate the community.$$Now, how would you--in exact--how would you go about telling other black doctors to do that?$$Oh, I think they come about it in, in organization and then they have groups that out, and they have health fairs, things of that nature, a few different organizations. Organizations put together the healthcare, you get--and you invite people in, and you go and talk to them and give them, give them presentations. But it's not a one-time thing. It's an ongoing thing.