Thursday, 31 March 2016


                                                      BLACK      SOCIAL      HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Matthew Ricketts
Matthew O. Ricketts
M. O. Ricketts - Progress - Saturday, June 21, 1890.png
Phototype from the Progress, June 21, 1890
Member of the Nebraska House of Representatives
In office
1893 – 1897[1]
Personal details
Born April 3, 1858
Henry County, Kentucky, U.S.
Died 1917 (aged 58–59)
St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Alice Nelson
Alma mater Omaha Medical College
Occupation Physician
Matthew Oliver Ricketts (April 3, 1858 – 1917) was an American politician and physician. He was the first African-American member of the Nebraska Legislature, where he served two terms in the Nebraska House of Representatives (the lower house of what was then a bicameral legislature).[1][2] He was also the first African American to graduate from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in Omaha.[3]

1 Biography
1.1 Early years
1.2 Career
1.3 Personal life
Early years
Ricketts was born to enslaved parents in Henry County, Kentucky in 1858. His parents moved to Boonville, Missouri, after the American Civil War when he was a child, and he completed school there.[4]

In 1876 Ricketts earned a degree from the Lincoln Institute (now Lincoln University of Missouri) in Jefferson City, Missouri. In 1880 he moved to Omaha, where he was admitted to the Omaha Medical College. He worked as a janitor to pay his tuition. In March 1884 Ricketts graduated with honors, and soon after opened a medical office in Omaha.[5]

Ricketts quickly earned a reputation for "being a very careful physician, as well as an exceedingly likable young man."[6] With his education and energy, Ricketts became the acknowledged leader of Omaha's African-American community. He was a charismatic man and controversial speaker.[7]

Following the failed candidacy of Nebraska's first black candidate, Edwin R. Overall, in 1890,[8] Ricketts was elected to the Nebraska House of Representatives in in 1892 on the Republican ticket. Rickets served two terms, from 1893 to 1897.[1] He was the first African American to serve in the Nebraska Legislature. Dr. Ricketts was regarded as one of the best orators there and was frequently called upon for his opinions.[4]

He is credited with creating Omaha's Negro Fire Department Company. He helped secure appointments for blacks in city and state government positions, for patronage was an important part of politics before the establishment of merit career civil service for such positions. Ricketts was a member of the black association the Prince Hal Masons, where he was elected Worshipful Master of Omaha Excelsior Lodge No. 110. The African-American Masons were one of many fraternal associations created by African Americans in communities nationwide in the late 19th century as they organized new cooperative ventures.[2] Ricketts addressed the 1906 Grand Convocation of the Freemasons in Kansas City, Missouri.[9]

After leaving the Legislature, Ricketts was an unsuccessful candidate for a federal appointee position, chiefly because his appointment was opposed by a Nebraska congressman.[10] Ricketts subsequently moved to St. Joseph, Missouri to continue his medical career in 1903. He practiced there for another 14 years and continued to play a prominent role in politics in that city.[11]

Ricketts was active in the Nebraska Legislature, chairing several committees and temporarily chairing the body. He introduced a bill to legalize interracial marriages, which passed the Legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Silas A. Holcomb. He also introduced a bill to prohibit the denial of public services to African Americans.[12] In 1893 Nebraska lawmakers passed a measure prohibiting race-based denial of services. This strengthening of the state's 1885 civil rights law was led by Ricketts. He was also instrumental in the enactment of a bill that set an age of consent for marriage in Nebraska, relying on a petition of 500 African-American women in Omaha to carry it forward.[13]

Personal life
In 1884 when he graduated from medical school, Ricketts married Alice Nelson. They had three children.[4] Ricketts died in St. Joseph, Missouri, at the age of 64.[14]


                                                       BLACK     SOCIAL     HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

May Edward Chinn
May Edward Chinn
May Edward Chinn 1917.jpg
May Edward Chinn during her years at Teacher's College, ca. 1917
Born April 15, 1896
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Died December 1, 1980 (aged 84)
Nationality USA
Alma mater Teachers College, Columbia University (B.S., 1921)
Bellevue Hospital Medical College (M.D., 1926)
Occupation physician
Known for first African-American woman graduate of Bellevue Hospital Medical College
May Edward Chinn (April 15, 1896 - December 1, 1980) was an African-American woman physician. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College and the first African-American woman to intern at Harlem Hospital. In her private practice, she provided care for patients who would not otherwise receive treatment. She was a strong advocate of early cancer screening.[1]

1 Early life and education
2 Career
Early life and education
Chinn was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Her father, William Lafayette, was the son of a plantation slave and her owner; at the age of 11, he escaped from this Virginia plantation. Her mother, Lulu Ann, was the daughter of a slave and a Chickahominy Native American,[2] who worked as the live-in cook at the Long Island mansion of the Tiffany family of jewelers. The Tiffany family encouraged Chinn's interest in music.[2] Growing up, she attended musical concerts in New York City and learned to play piano, accompanying the singer Paul Robeson in the early 1920s. The Tiffany family also taught her the German and French languages.[3]

Chinn's mother, who valued education, saved enough money from cooking to send Chinn to the Bordentown Manual and Training Industrial School, a New Jersey boarding school, until Chinn contracted osteomyelitis of the jaw. Chinn remained in New York City after her surgery there, but she was too poor to finish high school. Despite her lack of a diploma, she took the entrance examination to Columbia Teachers College and passed it, matriculating in 1917.[4]

Chinn studied her first love, music, until a professor mocked her race as unfit for playing classical music. At the same time, she received high praise for a scientific paper she wrote on sewage disposal, so she changed her major to science. In her senior year, she secured a full-time position as a lab technician in clinical pathology, so she completed her course work at night to graduate with a bachelor's degree in science in 1921. She proceeded to study medicine at Bellevue Hospital Medical College, becoming its first African-American woman graduate in 1926.

Rockefeller Institute was prepared to offer Chinn a research fellowship until it learned of her race. Harlem Hospital was the only medical institution in the city that offered Chinn an internship. Chinn was the first African-American woman to intern there and to accompany paramedics on ambulance calls, she confronted another obstacle when the hospital refused her practicing privileges there. Chinn established a private practice instead, seeing patients in her office and performing procedures in their homes. This experience prompted her to earn a master's degree in public health from Columbia University in 1933.[5]

Upon graduation Chinn found that no hospital would allow her practicing privileges. The Rockefeller Institute had seriously considered her for a research fellowship until they discovered that she was black. With her fair skin and last name, many assumed that she was white or Chinese. She later told Muriel Petioni, former president of the Society of Black Women Physicians, that black workers snubbed her because they assumed she was passing as white, and did not want to jeopardize her position. In 1940, Harlem Hospital granted Chinn admitting privileges, in part due to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's push for integration in the wake of the Harlem Riot of 1935.[5]

In 1944, the Strang Clinic hired Chinn to conduct research on cancer, and she remained there for the next 29 years.[3] The Society of Surgical Oncology invited her to become a member, and in 1975, she established a society to promote African-American women to attend medical school. She maintained her private practice until the age of 81.[3] While attending a reception at Columbia University in honor of a friend, Chinn collapsed and died on December 1, 1980, aged 84.[5]

May Chinn was an active member of Delta Sigma Theta. In February 1921, Chinn was among the first group of women initiated into the Alpha Beta Chapter of the sorority alongside Eslanda Goode Robeson