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ExhibitionThe Power of Medicine

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  • African American man (Leonidas Berry) seated at desk and looking at viewer.
    Leonidas H. Berry, MD, mid-20th century

    Leonidas H. Berry, MD, prominent physician and president of the National Medical Association 1965–66, was a leader of campaigns against racial discrimination by hospitals.

    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    As a member of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Leonidas H. Berry, MD investigated and campaigned to end discrimination against African American physicians and patients by Chicago hospitals.

  • Text letter
    Advisory Health Committee meeting letter, 1962

    Letter from Chicago Commission on Human Relations members Leonidas H. Berry, MD and Hal M. Freeman on the shortage of hospital facilities on Chicago’s South Side and its relationship to racial discrimination in medical care, May 4, 1962

    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    The shortage of physicians and hospitals in poor neighborhoods and rural areas significantly contributed to unequal access. In 1962, civil rights leaders and physicians proposed a plan to bring more health facilities to Chicago’s predominantly-African American South Side.

  • Table chart of the Chicago Hospital Staff Appointments to Negro Doctors.
    African American doctor representation chart, 1962

    Chicago Commission on Human Relations, “Chicago Hospital Staff Appointments to Negro Doctors” chart, 1962

    Courtesy National Library of Medicine

    In 1956, only nine of the over 50 private hospitals in Chicago allowed African American physicians to practice on their staffs. Leonidas Berry, who was an internationally renowned gastroenterologist, worked with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations to end racially discriminatory practices at Chicago hospitals.