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Remembering Dr. Alvin Blount Jr. and his groundbreaking legacy

Modern Medicine owes Greensboro's own, Dr. Alvin Blount, more than it could ever pay him.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Where would we be without Dr. Alvin V. Blount Jr.? That's a question I'm glad we don't have an answer to. 

Greensboro's history is filled with huge names that have changed the world, including Dr. Alvin Blount Jr. He and his colleagues played a major role in the desegregating hospitals across the nation.

Although he is no longer with us, I had the pleasure of speaking with two of his children about the legacy that their father has left behind.

Dr. Alvin Blount Jr. was a revolutionary, he graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in 1943 with a double major in Chemistry and math. 

From there, he went on to study medicine at Howard University, where he received his medical degree in 1947.

In 1952, Dr. Blount was deployed with the 8225th Infantry Division that served in Korea. According to Dr. Blount's eldest son Terry Blount, during his time in Korea, Dr. Blount and his team performed close to 100 surgeries a week. 

During his time in Korea, Dr. Blount was promoted to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, where he served as acting Chief of Surgery for his unit from 1951-1952 and was named Chief of Surgery for the 47th US Army Combat Surgical Hospital. 

Dr. Blount's daughter Gaye Holmes, told us "That rank made his the first black surgeon in a MASH Unit".

When Dr. Blount returned to the U.S. he soon became the first Black American in North Carolina to be certified by the American College of  Abdominal Surgeons in 1957.

 According to Dr. Blount's eldest son Terry, "my dad probably had one of the largest medical practices in the state, because he was the only qualified black surgeon. He did all these surgeries at L. Richardson (now Kindred Hospital)".

In 1962, Dr. Blount and eight other black physicians, doctors, and their patients sued Wesley Long and Moses Cone Hospital, stating the hospitals denied privileges and services to patients due to their race.

"They lost the case, appealed to the 4th Circuit, the 4th Circuit reversed the decision of the district court. The hospital appealed to the Supreme Court, but they refused to hear the case. So, it became the law of the land."

Dr. Blount and his colleagues changed the landscape of modern medicine and within six months of the ruling, 6,000 hospitals nationwide were desegregated.

"It opened the door of opportunity for young men and women to go into the medical profession because it was more places for them to train. Back then blacks could only go to Howard or Meharry Medical College."

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Dr. Blount went on to become the first black surgeon at Cone Hospital and eventually became their Chief Surgeon. 

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According to Gaye, "He was a surgeon until his late 60's I do believe, and he still practiced medicine up until a few months before he passed at 94. His first love was A&T and his second was medicine".

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