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Dr. James Rosser, Jr.

Hospital chief executive and medical professor James C. Rosser, Jr. was born on September 14, 1954 in Rome, Mississippi. He attended James C. Rosser Elementary school and graduated from Gentry High School in 1971. After briefly attending the University of Florida, Rosser enrolled in the University of Mississippi and graduated from there with his B.A. degree in chemistry and biology in 1974. He received his M.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1980. Rosser then completed his surgical residency at Akron General Medical Center where he served as chief resident from 1984 to 1985.

Upon completion of his residency, Rosser began an academic/private surgical practice at Akron General Medical Center and accepted a position as assistant professor of surgery at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. In addition, Rosser was appointed as assistant professor of surgery at the Yale University School of Medicine, and as professor of surgery at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine. His hospital appointments include Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands and St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1994 to 2002, Rosser served as chief of videoendoscopic surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Then, in 2002, he was named chief of minimally invasive surgery and director of the Advanced Medical technology Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Rosser has given more than 350 invited lectures around the world on topics ranging from education to remote control surgery. He has written over fifty peer-reviewed articles, sixteen chapters in books currently in print, and eleven digital books. He holds two patents and he has been credited with the development of several products and appliances. For his efforts, Dr. Rosser has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the NAACP Living Legend Award in Medicine, the National Role Model Award from Minority Access, Inc., the SAGES Gerald Marks Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Society of Laparoscopic Surgeons’ EXCEL award.

Rosser is married to Dana Mitchell Rosser. They have five children: Kevin S. Rosser, Duane C. Rosser, Angela N. Rosser, Taylor E. Rosser, and Tianna M. Rosser.

James C. Rosser, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 4, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.177

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/4/2013

Last Name

Rosser

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C.

Schools

Gentry High School

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi School of Medicine

James C. Rosser Elementary School

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Rome

HM ID

ROS05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

You Don't Know What You Don't Know.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

9/14/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Catfish

Short Description

Hospital chief executive and medical professor Dr. James Rosser, Jr. (1954 - ) served as the chief of minimally invasive surgery and director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Employment

Akron General Medical Center

Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine

Yale University School of Medicine

Albert Einstein Medical Center

Children's Hospital Medical Center

Union Hospital

Bellevue Hospital

Washington General Hospital

Riverview Hospital

Providence Hospital

Middlesex Hospital

Best Israel Medical Center

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Rosser, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls the origin of his nickname

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about his father's service in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about his father's experiences during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers the influence of his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his earliest memory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about the music scene in Moorhead, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes the black community in Moorhead, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls the influence of comic books and television

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers black representation in the media

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls his family's role in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers the East Moorhead School in Moorhead, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls his parents' role in the voter registration movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his early adolescence

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers visiting Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes the white resistance to desegregation

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes the resources at black public schools in Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about school desegregation in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about his dream of becoming a doctor

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his aspiration to play college football

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls the obstacles to his enrollment at the University of Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his experiences of discrimination at Gentry High School in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers matriculating at the University of Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his experiences of discrimination at the University of Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his transition to medical school

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers meeting and marrying his wife, Dana Rosser

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls his near expulsion from medical school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his decision to enroll at the Brompton Cardiothoracic Institute in London, England

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers the mentorship of Dr. James D. Hardy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. remembers his influential medical professors

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. recalls moving to Akron, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about the invention of laparoscopic surgery

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his contributions to laparoscopic surgery

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

9$9

DATitle
Dr. James Rosser, Jr. talks about growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement
Dr. James Rosser, Jr. describes his experiences of discrimination at the University of Mississippi
Transcript
There's a theory that Mississippi was the toughest place to be raised for black folks in this country. I mean, or, to live.$$Oh, absolutely, it's tough because the oppression was everywhere and you being in your place was everywhere. And see, my, my [maternal] grandparents [Pearl Mitchell and Ludie Mitchell] didn't, didn't vote. But, but my dad [James Rosser, Sr.] and my mom [Marjorie Mitchell Rosser] they were, I'll never forget going to the courthouse in, in '64 [1964], with shotguns, with white people lacing the courthouse when they repealed that you had to go through these tests and everything, the Voting Rights Act [Voting Rights Act of 1965], they were one of the first people to go there and vote. And then subsequently my dad and mom served on the election board. But, they had to go vote under the threat of their lives. I don't think people understand that now. You talk to a youngster now and they can't even fathom that. But here I am, a little kid, my parents gave me front row seats, we, we faced that danger as a family. And, my, my dad and my mom, they were absolute leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. But, a leader of a different kind. The black people called them Uncle Toms, the white people called them agitators, so they were right in the middle. And like my dad said, that's about where we need to be. Where black people didn't, didn't necessarily agree with everything they did. White people didn't necessarily agree with everything they did, now I'll giv- they did. Now, I'll give you an example, this is a burning memory. In Moorhead, Mississippi, where I grew up is in the Delta in Mississippi [Mississippi Delta], the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, it was probably '64 [1964] or '65 [1965]. Freedom Riders were big. And, they boycotted the town, the, the business district of Moorhead, because we had to go into a drugstore, we couldn't have a malt, a milkshake, we had to get it in the back, this sort of thing. So, they locked down the town, boycotted the whole town. Well, one of the people in one of the stores they boycotted was a Mr. Harry Diamond, Diamond's Department Store. At the time Mr. Diamond was just, you know, as far as I'm concerned, white. But, he was really Jewish, all right. So, they boycotted Mr. Diamond's store, well my dad took offense to that. Because, he just said, "Two wrongs don't make a right." Harry Diamond really all his life had, you know, embraced black people. So, I'll never forget at the height of this boycott, where people are down there with pitchforks and everything like that, signs, my daddy came home on a Saturday. My dad never gets home on a Saturday, because he, my dad was a school principal. But, that was his part-time job. He was, he was, doing crops, selling produce, he was an entrepreneur really. I think that's where I get that from, being an entrepreneur. And he said, "You know what? We're going in town." That was rare. And he did something else rare, he gave us a dollar apiece. My dad doesn't give money for you to go into town like that, that's just, he's an ex-Marine [U.S. Marine Corps] and that was just frivolous. But, on this occasion he said, "I'm giving you a dollar and we're gonna go downtown and we're gonna buy something we don't even need from Harry Diamond." I'll never forget us, get, forget what we did, forget what we did. We all got in our Sunday best. My dad went in and I saw his Marine uniform and his .45, he put the holster on. And we get in the car we all go down. I'll never forget how the people parted as my dad's car came up. And the people, there was a big crowd of people blocking all the, the, the highway, the, the, the street. And so, it parted and we came in and parked. And then my dad got out and it was the first time I ever seen him open the door for my mama (laughter). He was that kind of guy. And we got out and he, he started walking and people just naturally parted, not a word being said. Then all of sudden he stopped right at the back of the car. And I'm saying, "Why is my daddy stopping with these people crazy out here, right now. Let's keep moving." That's me saying as a little child. And he stopped and turned around to address the crowd. And he said, "I'm getting ready to go into Mr. Harry Diamond's department store, and I'm gonna buy something I don't even need. And I'm gonna buy something I don't even need because, let me tell you, two wrongs don't make a right." And he then pointed out, "The shoes on your baby's feet, where'd you get 'em from?" "Mr. Diamond." "Did you pay for it in cash or credit?" "He gave me credit." And he went around and pointed people out in the crowd and basically reviewed everything this man had done. And he said, "Look, I want you to know two wrongs don't make a right. And I'm gonna tell ya right now and I'm going over here and I'm gonna buy this and nobody's gonna stop me." Everybody opened up, my dad walked in, we bought something, came back. And then next day, every merchant was boycotted except Mr. Harry Diamond.$Were you prepared, I mean, you know?$$Was we, were--no I wasn't prepared.$$Okay.$$I had to work a lot harder 'cause I didn't have all the courses that these kids had. I had to come in there and, man, work hard. I'm from a handicapped situation that wasn't my own making. But, we never complained, complained, we just adapted. I'll never forget, the, the black people there it was just amazing because nobody had gotten anything more than a C from English lit before, or English comp, as, as a black person. 'Cause every black person knew every black person on the campus of University of Mississippi [Oxford, Mississippi]. And what your grades were. So, the thing that when I came out and I had got a B in English comp it was like it went through wildfire. And was (unclear) 'cause nobody had done well. Had all these great black kids who came from unprepared situations who always wound up dropping out. And I'll never forget that was a source of pride. Because they would say we weren't gonna be able to do with this sort of thing and we would do it. And I came there, I was a youngster, I mean 'cause I was always ahead. They couldn't even figure out how the heck did you get here this young, and how you staying here and doing well. So, we were able, I was able to establish my reputation there as being a, of being a, a, a great student. And the first black fraternity on campus was Omega Psi Phi [Omega Psi Phi Fraternity], and I was one of the founding members of that. Eta Zeta Chapter in, in '73 [1973], they had not had a black Greek society on campus.$$Now, composition I, I was just thinking that composition that is one thing that University of Mississippi is known for. It's known for its English department?$$Yeah.$$And its writing courses if nothing else 'cause (unclear)--$$And it's tough.$$--all the writers in Mississippi that have, have come out of--$$It's tough.$$--(unclear) have taught there like Faulkner [William Faulkner], so?$$Oh yeah! Yeah so, so that was a, but, but, people weren't doing well. You have to realize at that time three black people couldn't meet for more than fifteen minutes in one spot on our campus. That was in the rule book (laughter). That was in the rule book. But, you know what there was so many good people. Friends today, Mikey Brunt [L. Michael Brunt], who's at Wash U [Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri] who's an unbelievable world class surgeon. He was a guy that befriended me. And to this day, you know, we have just such good feelings about, about each other. You know, and he didn't go to University of Mississippi medical school [University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Oxford, Mississippi]; he went to another place. But, but it's just a beautiful thing to talk about those days in organic chemistry. And all, we always were in those courses together. And he always spoke to me, always befriended me. I mean a lot good people were there. And really, for the most part, I, I think I got through there without a, a lot of problems.$$Okay, how did, I mean did the black students study together, did you have a, were they organized?$$No, no, socially everybody was a crab in the barrel thing. Uh, you know, I mean really wasn't that tight camaraderie everybody wanted to think they were special, and, and individual and, and they didn't do that much. And, and in fact most of the time people weren't doing well as they had done before and they kind of kept that inside. I saw we had a lot of people that would drop out.$$No, Black Student Union?$$(Unclear) yes, they did but it wasn't strong, you know what I mean. As strong as (unclear) we had little simple things, some little organization things. But, I wasn't, I wasn't really a part of that, as much. Because I was trying to get out of there, I think. Well, 'cause I, you know, I wanted to move on. I wanted to move on. The whole point why I accelerated through high school [Gentry High School, Indianola, Mississippi] and through college was to get to do what I wanted to do quicker, you know. I was pushing for that.$$Okay, okay so was there any particular teachers or administrators or students at the University of Mississippi that stand out in terms of their association with you or?$$Not really, because you know that was a big situation, sterile environment. Not really had anybody that was forceful, you were, it was, you were on your own (laughter). You know, you were on your own. And so, no, nobody there. I was just, I didn't want to fail. I didn't want to go home and have people point at me, "Hey there goes Butch Rosser [HistoryMaker Dr. James Rosser, Jr.], he could of done this. He could of done that." I heard that all my life, you know. Somebody went somewhere and could of done this, could of done that. They're still living on what they could of done. I, I didn't wanna do that, I had a fear of failure, I really did.$$Okay.$$A fear of failure.