Harvard Medical School was established in 1782, but its first black students did not attend until 1850 and those first three students were not allowed to complete their first semester. The first black students graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1869. Almost 100 years later, Harvard Medical School enacted an affirmative action admissions policy to actively recruit and retain students of color.
This exhibit explores the history of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) diversity, inclusion and belonging for students of color and other underrepresented groups. Perspectives of Change: The story of civil rights, diversity, inclusion and access to education at HMS and HSDM highlights stories of trailblazing students, faculty, trainees and health leaders from the 19th century through today. Recorded interviews and a review of historical resources places the exhibit in a broad context as it captures themes of inequity, injustice and health disparities, locally and nationally. The exhibit simultaneously depicts gains that have been made and directions for the future.
Perspectives of Change: The story of civil rights, diversity, inclusion and access to education at HMS and HSDM is an oral history project and crowd-sourced collection of stories, images, and videos related to the historic and ongoing efforts to advance diversity and inclusion at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and their affiliates.
The Center for the History of Medicine in partnership with the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership is actively collecting and sharing the stories of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine faculty, students, alumni, and health leaders in their quests to advance civil rights, diversity, and inclusion at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and their affiliates.
By collecting these stories we are adding individual voices and experiences to history, and revealing the struggles and achievements that have transformed medical education and care at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and beyond.
Edward Kravitz, PhD (HMS Faculty 1960—present)
J. Emilio Carrillo, MD, MPH, HMS Class of 1976
Matthew W. Plummer, Jr., DMD, MPH, HSDM Class of 1973
Brian Swann, DDS, MPH (HSDM faculty)