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History of Medicine Home > History Home > Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons Home African Americans have always practiced medicine, whether as physicians, healers, midwives, or “root doctors.” The journey of the African American physician from pre-Civil War to modern day America has been a challenging one. Early black pioneer physicians not only became skilled practitioners, they became trailblazers and educators paving the way for future physicians, surgeons, and nurses, and opening doors to better health care for the African American community. We celebrate the achievements of these pioneers in medicine by highlighting four contemporary pioneer African American surgeons and educators who exemplify excellence in their fields and believe in continuing the journey of excellence through the education and mentoring of young African Americans pursuing medical careers. February 1 – May 31, 2007.