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Dr. Alvin Blount, Jr.

Physician Dr. Alvin Blount, Jr. was born on February 24, 1922, in Wake County, Raleigh, North Carolina. He was the eldest of four children and the only son of parents who worked as domestics. After graduating from Washington High School in Raleigh, Blount enrolled at North Carolina A & T University in 1939 where he served as the student body president and as chairman of the campus newspaper before graduating in 1943 with his B.A. degree in chemistry (magna cum laude). After graduating, Blount was accepted into a government funded program that enabled him to enroll in Howard University Medical School where he studied under Dr. Charles Drew and received his M.D. degree in 1947. Blount spent three years on active duty in the U.S. Army during medical school. He completed a general surgery residency at Kate Bittings Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem.

In 1952, Blount was mobilized with the 8225th Infantry Division from Fort Bragg as a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps’ 2nd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) Unit that was sent to Korea. Blount, whose team performed ninety surgeries a week, went on to become a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He served as acting Chief of Surgery for the 8225th MASH Unit in Korea from 1951 until 1952, and was appointed Chief of Surgery for the 47th U.S. Army Combat Surgical Hospital in Southeast Asia. He returned to the United States in 1954.

In 1957, Blount became the first African American in North Carolina be certified by the American College of Abdominal Surgeons in 1957 and practiced at Kindred Hospital (formerly L. Richardson Hospital). He was a litigant of the suit Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Hospital (1963), the landmark Supreme Court decision that desegregated hospitals throughout the South. Blount became the first black surgeon admitted to the medical staff of Cone Hospital in 1964. He served as Chief of Surgery for L. Richardson Hospital and as Medical Director for the Guilford Health Care Center.

Blount was affiliated with numerous organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Association of Guardsmen. He was a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity since 1970; and, in 1979, he established the Beta Epsilon Boule of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity in Greensboro. Blount, a 33rd degree Mason, was an honorary past Grand Master and Medical Director of the Prince Hall Masons of North Carolina. He received countless awards including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor that can be granted to a civilian in the state of North Carolina. In 1983, North Carolina A & T University awarded Blount an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities

Blount passed away on January 6, 2017 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2013.157

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/5/2013

Last Name

Blount

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

V.

Occupation
Schools

Washington High School

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Howard University College of Medicine

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alvin

Birth City, State, Country

Raleigh

HM ID

BLO02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

If you think you are right, have the courage to do it.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

2/24/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Greensboro

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

1/6/2017

Short Description

Physician Dr. Alvin Blount, Jr. (1922 - 2017 ) , the first African American in North Carolina to be certified by the American College of Abdominal Surgeons, was a litigant in the hospital desegregation suit Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Hospital, which allowed him to become first black surgeon admitted to the medical staff of Cone Hospital. He served as acting Chief of Surgery for the 8225th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) Unit in Korea from 1951 until 1952, and was appointed Chief of Surgery for the 47th U.S. Army Combat Surgical Hospital in Southeast Asia.

Employment

Delete

Kindred Hospital

Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital

L. Richardson Hospital

Womack Army Hospital

8225th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital

United States Army Medical Services

Katie B. Reynolds Memorial Hospital

Favorite Color

Light Green

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Blount's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount talks about his mother's education and aspirations and his parents working in New York during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about land ownership in North Carolina after the American Civil War

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount talks about his father's education and his job in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about his parents getting married in 1920 and lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alvin Blount talks about his parents' loving marriage, their emphasis on education, and their having to work in New York during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Alvin Blount discusses his father's employment as a chauffeur for Eddie Rickenbacker, the Rickenbacker family, and General John "Black Jack" Pershing

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Alvin Blount talks about the mentorship that he received from his father's employer, Reed Chambers

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about Reed Cambers, his mother's death, and his father's remarriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount describes his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about his childhood observations of his life as an African American

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about his religious faith

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount talks about attending elementary school in New Rochelle, New York and Franklinton, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount talks about the difference between his elementary schools in New Rochelle, New York and Franklinton, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about the teachers who influenced him, his math classes and why he decided to major in chemistry in college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount talks about his academics and leadership in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount talks about being exposed to black doctors in the neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about attending North Carolina A and T State University in 1939 on a National Youth Administration (NYA) scholarship

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Alvin Blount talks about his professors in at North Carolina A and T State University and his involvement in campus politics

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about his nickname in college, and running for student body elections

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount recalls the United States' entry into World War II in 1941 and why he decided to pursue medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about the importance of a background in the humanities, and how he ensured that he received a well-rounded education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about the joining the U.S. Army and his experience there

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount talks about attending Howard University's medical college, his residency in North Carolina, and the challenges of being a black physician

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount talks about the Flexner Report

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about the challenges that were faced by black medical students and residents while receiving his medical training

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount talks about the limited opportunity for black medical residents and the discrimination against them

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount talks about his professors and colleagues at Howard University's College of Medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about his career as a physician and surgeon

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about his residency at Kate B. Reynolds Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount talks about rejoining the military in 1950, and his assignments to the MASH units in Fort Bragg and in Korea

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount describes his experience in the Korean War, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about his marriages

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his experience in Korea during the Korean War and the plight of the civilians, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his experience in Korea during the Korean War and the plight of the civilians, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about the book and television series, MASH

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount describes his experience the Korean War, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about returning from the Korean War and his acquaintance with Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount talks about becoming the first black doctor to practice at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about the anti-discrimination 'Simkins versus Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital' lawsuit of 1963, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about the anti-discrimination 'Simkins versus Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital' lawsuit of 1963, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount reflects upon Jack Greenberg being the only white legal counselor for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his experience with demonstrations at North Carolina A and T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about Reverend Jesse Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount talks about black doctors who were involved in civil rights and the history of African Americans in medicine in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about becoming the first black physician to perform surgery at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount talks about the Ku Klux Klansmen who built his home in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about facing discrimination as a physician in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about serving on the Greensboro jury commission

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount reflects upon the changes in the relationship between African American and white doctors in North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount reflects upon the election of President Barack Obama as the first black president in the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount discusses health concerns and healthcare for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount discusses health concerns and healthcare for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about medical malpractice

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Alvin Blount talks about the anti-discrimination 'Simkins versus Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital' lawsuit of 1963, pt. 1
Alvin Blount talks about becoming the first black physician to perform surgery at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina
Transcript
There's a story to that. I was chairman in Greensboro [North Carolina] of the liaison committee between the Greensboro Medical Society--black, and the white medical society, Gilford County. They had a group of doctors, members from each of them. And I served as chairman. I was secretary of the Greensboro Medical Society. And although they had other people qualified, I had an application in. And I was appointed the first black doctor to the Gilford County Medical Society and the Greensboro Academy of Medicine. Now, there's another--added to it. They offered us, before this, what is called a scientific membership--which you go to the meetings, but the social events, you were excluded.$$Scientific membership?$$Yeah. And we wrote them back and told them this is the most insulting thing you can do, and did not accept it.$$Yeah, isn't a goal of the American Medical Association to form a collegial bond between physicians?$$Well, that's what they said. But you see, they didn't have a--. Here's the question. When you read this book, you'll understand the black doctor was never intended by the American Medical Association to be as full fledged as the white physician. I don't care how much training, what and what--if you're black, then you lost your qualification then. That went for [Dr. Charles] Drew, that went for all of us at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia], and everybody, until they got them to--and so forth. So, there we had that right that we had in the South. And in--a lot of northern states were doing the same thing. It excludes, at that time it didn't exclude Connecticut nor Massachusetts at first. So, this is it, the thing that we were fighting about. It all eventually led, as you know, in a suit.$$Right, right.$$In 1962.$$A friend of yours who's a dentist, right, filed?$$There were ten of us.$$Well, can you remember all ten?$$Yeah. I got them around here somewhere. Okay, let me see if I can give you--There was Dr. [Walter] Hughes, Dr. Blount, Dr. Jones and Dr. Alexander, Dr. F. E. Davis and E.C. Noel. And the dentists were Dr. [George] Simkins, Dr. Milton Barnes and Dr. W. T. L. Miller. And there were two civilians, one of which was named Lyons.$$Okay.$$That's it.$$Okay, okay.$Okay. Now, in 1964--this is the same year as the Civil Rights Act was passed, you became the first black physician to perform an operation at Moses Cone [Memorial Hospital, Greensboro, North Carolina], right?$$Yes I did, a cholecystectomy (unclear).$$How did that take place? I mean, was there, you know--because you being the first, there had to be some--was there any ceremony involved in this, or any--$$It is said that the white surgeons took a holiday that day. That's so far back I can't think whether it was true or not. More than likely, it was. But it was said that for two or three days, the white physicians would boycott this. I don't know whether they did or not, but that is said, and it probably is true. But I had been operating with them over at the black hospital. So, that wasn't anything new. I'd been at the [U.S.] Army hospital and I operated, so--. And my assistant was in surgery and gynecology, but he was also certified. So, we went in and did our, you know, before we do our operations, the first thing we do is we ligate the cystic duct and cystic artery. And then before we cut, we take a picture of the common [bile] duct to see if there are any stones in there. If not, you cut them and (unclear) come on out. And I guess we were there about an hour and ten minutes doing that. And they were amazed, because some of their doctors took two hours and a half or something. But that goes under the particular art of dexterity. And some people are fairly good technicians and others aren't, and no matter how much theory they know, they just can't do the small things, because we don't--yeah--$$We were talking about Jack White earlier--$$Yeah, that's right.$$--about how dexterious he was.$$And me doing them now, I'd be doing laproscopic. I'd just make two little holes and look down there and clip, clip, clip, clip, and in thirty minutes, I'm out. But (unclear), and then of course, the next day I have to (unclear) with an abdominal hysterectomy and, you know, the vaginal. I did, and I think the next day I had a cholecystectomy the day before, and lesions were left in the colon and enter into what we call entero-proctostomy, the thing what I've been doing all the time. And then they started drifting back and shaking my hands and saying, "It certainly went right, I'm sorry y'all had to go through this stuff." You know, I just took that pressure off them. "Yeah, man. But you see what you were doing, you were messing with my welfare because the patient wanted to come here, and I couldn't come here. So they had to get somebody here to do the operation. You're taking my money. (laughter). And so, that's the only thing we're interested in. You don't have to love me, or like me, or not. But you don't have the right to keep me out of this facility, because you don't want it. The people know it."$$This is true.$$Yeah. So there again goes-they of us (unclear) how to approach things and how to get things over to people definitely without having to put your fist on them. Don't get mad about it, just lay the facts out. Smarter thinker. That's what I, all my life--if you live in the South, and they do anything for you, you had to spend some nights thinking how you're going to get this done.