Events / The History of the Desegregation of the School of Medicine

The History of the Desegregation of the School of Medicine

12:00 p.m.-1:15 p.m.
Connor Auditorium

Event Description:
Edwin McCleskey, PhD, science officer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, served on the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine from 1986-1993. His research addressed the biophysical properties of calcium-selective ion channels and the discovery of ion channels that trigger different types of pain. He also taught physiology and neuroscience.

Edwin McCleskey, PhD, a Science Officer at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, reviews his interviews from the early 1980s that are in the archive at the Bernard Becker Medical Library on February 6, 2019. MATT MILLER/WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

During his tenure at the Medical Campus, Dr. McCleskey began a research project entitled “The Desegregation History Project.” A timeline detailing the history of desegregation at the School of Medicine, and accompanying institutional challenges that African American students, faculty and staff members faced, emerged from the data. His findings were derived from historical documents, as well as interviews with individuals such as James L. Sweatt III, MD, the first African American graduate of the School of Medicine; Robert Lee, PhD, the first assistant dean of minority student affairs, now the Office of Diversity Programs, at the School of Medicine; Ella Brown, the Head Nurse at the Homer G. Phillips at the time it closed; and Dr. Julian Mosley, the second African American graduate the School of Medicine.

Dr. McCleskey’s presentation will:

  • Honor African American leaders who overcame multiple challenges to lay a path toward institutional equity;
  • Explore intentional actions the School of Medicine implemented to increase diversity and inclusion;
  • Increase attendee’s understanding of challenges individuals and the School of Medicine fought through to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community;
  • Provide an opportunity to explore lessons that could be learned from understanding the history of desegregation at the School of Medicine.

For questions regarding this event, please contact Rachelle D. Smith, PhD, in the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all Washington University School of Medicine sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Washington University School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in advance at 314-273-2809 or 

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