Dr. Henry E. Lee, a surgeon, attended Tillotson College in Austin, Texas and later received an honorary Doctorate of Science Degree from that institution. Tillotson, a historically black college, merged with Samuel Huston College in 1952 to form Huston-Tillotson University. It remains a primarily black college, although there are no restrictions on race for applicants.
Dr. Lee received his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1902. In 1910, he began practicing in Houston.
In 1918, he pooled his financial resources with Drs. R. O. Roett, Charles Jackson, B. J. Covington, and F. F. Stone to build the city’s first black hospital. Union Hospital stood at the corner of Howard and Nash Streets. Although it only held six beds and one surgical suite, Union Hospital was the only facility specifically created for African-American patients where Houston’s black physicians could practice medicine. The city’s other hospitals refused to extend privileges to these physicians.
Dr. Lee’s accomplishments are many, including vice presidency of the National Medical Association in 1939; presidency of Jon Andrew Clinical Society of Tuskegee, Alabama in 1930; presidency of the Lone Star Pharmaceutical Association; participation in the National Commission on Medical Legislation; and chairmanship of the Committee for the Colored Clinic at Jefferson Davis City-County Hospital. He also served as Grand Medical Director of the Progressive Order of Pilgrims in Houston.
In 1915, Dr. Lee also authored an article, “The Negro Health Problem,” that addressed how the realities of Jim Crow segregation undermined the well being of the nation’s African Americans.