Black women in dentistry have fought to work alongside their white male counterparts, and through their own passion and perseverance, they have left a tremendous impact. In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth, meet a pioneering black female dentist, Dr. Ida Gray.
Dr. Gray is was the first African-American female dentist! Overcoming an underprivileged childhood, Dr. Gray also encountered Dr. Jonathan Taft when she began working in his office while studying at Gaines High School in Chicago. She learned enough to enter the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1887, and graduated in 1990. Pssst... You might just know another trailblazing female dentist that also attended the University of Michigan.. Dr. Ryan.
While Dr. Gray grew up going to a segregated school, she became famous first in Cincinnati and later in Chicago for seeing both black and white patients, and when she began to practice in Chicago she inspired one of her patients, Olive M. Henderson, to become the city’s second black female dentist. As passionate about civic engagement as she was about dentistry, Dr. Gray was also the vice president of the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, the vice president of the Eighth Regiment Ladies’ Auxiliary, and a member of the Phyllis Wheatley Club — a group that worked to maintain the only black women’s center in Chicago.
Anyone — regardless of gender or color — can be a dentist and make an impact on their community!
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