The Top 21: Our List of Outstanding Black Doctors

March 1, 2011  |  

More than a century ago, Dr. James McCune Smith did what had never been done before. He became the first black person to earn a medical degree and practice medicine in this country.  It took him years of determination and an education in Europe to accomplish that. Yet he paved the way for possibility. Today black doctors are still breaking ground and carrying on that legacy of dedication and determination.

Some of these black doctors have not only been first in their class, but achieved firsts in their field of medicine. They’ve gone on to open doors to the most elite medical schools including Yale and Johns Hopkins, and encourage medical leaders of tomorrow to carry on. They’ve also ventured into new fields that had never been tapped by black doctors before them, including transplant surgery and ophthalmology.  Along the way, these great physicians have garnered the attention and earned the respect of people across the nation and around the world.  Here are a few of the doctors at the top of our list:

Dr. Ben Carson is a legend in American medicine.  He’s a neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital – a title he’s held since he was 32 years old. The Detroit native and son of a single mother who couldn’t read started his medical journey at Yale University.  From there he attended the University of Michigan Medical school. Since graduation he has broken new ground in his field and famously separated adjoined twins during a historic surgery.  His autobiography “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” was a bestseller, and was turned into a TV movie. In 2008 Dr. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

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  • Lupe

    Forgot one of the top pioneers in the field of medicine: Vivien Thomas. Didn’t have a degree but invented procedure to cure “blue baby syndrome”. First black man to perform heart surgery on a white person (during a time when that was a “no-no”. A TRUE scientist. Taught heart surgery procedures at JOHNS HOPKINS (doesn’t get much better than that).

  • ABerkGuy

    Starting with a raging homophobe doesn’t impress me though.

  • guest

    This list should be named 20 Top surgeons. While it is important to recognize the achievements of the black surgeons listed, it’s sad that you’ve neglected to mention the many doctors working the trenches and breaking down walls in primary care. Thanks for acknowledging dr benjamin.

  • benbggjxbg

    hi im a docter to ive already gottin my bachelors degree

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  • Greg Clifford

    Congratulations to Dr. Charles Modlin. The 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland are proud of your accomplishments and appropriate your efforts as chairman of our Health & Wellness Committee.

  • dreamer40

    You totally forgot Dr. Kim Manning of Grady here in Atlanta, who hosts the morning health show weekly! She's very personable on TV and in person, and I'm sure she has a genuine persona with her Grady patients.

  • pebbles

    this makes so proud to.

  • Jasmine

    Yay a woman!!

  • Secret

    Dr. Leffall got his medical degree at Howard University College of Medicine. He is still at Howard. Exceptional man, teacher and surgeon.

  • sparkleandgems

    Millicent Comrie, Gynecologist, THE BEST Dr. in Brooklyn New York and recognized in that medical book as well.

  • Greeneyedbandit


  • Greeneyedbandit

    Its 3 doctors in my family,let me see if they made the list.

  • Helene D. Gayle ,M.D., M.P.H., is currently president and CEO of CARE,