Celebrating Black History Month

Learn about notable African American veterinarians from across the United States. Thank you to the student organization Veterinary Students One in Ethnicity and Color (VOICE) for compiling information about many of these important figures.

Members of the veterinary student body gathered to mark the occasion of Black History Month in 2020:

A group veterinary student of color seated and standing in the Cornell Vet atrium to mark Black History Month
Left to right in the back row: Hassan Amin, Reginald Onyema, Kwamina Otseidu, Donovan Odelugo, Xavier Benjamin, James Cockey. Center row: Leah Ramsaran, Alexandria Bourgeois, Laci Taylor, Kristen Esannason, Loren Lassiter, Djion Holness, Aliyyah Noel. Seated: Nicholas Palmaro, Stephie-Anne Duliepre, Justine Anderson, Hillary Merry. Photo provided.

Kirksey Curd

Kirksey Curd, D.V.M. 1912

Kirksey Curd, D.V.M. 1912, was born in Kentucky and was Cornell's first African American veterinary graduate. After receiving his D.V.M. in 1912, he entered medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and spent the remainder of his professional career as a practicing physician at the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia.

Dr. John Brown

Dr. Brown was the first black veterinarian to earn his DVM degree at Kansas State. Dr. Brown was head of the Division of Agricultural Instruction at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, during 1912 and 1913. He served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant.

Dr. Lloyd Mobiley

Dr. Mobiley served in the Federal Meat Inspection service and was an officer in the U.S. Army Corps during World War II. He was appointed head of the Department of Anatomy at Tuskegee. One of Dr. Mobiley’s greatest contributions was to introduce the use of the intramedullary pin and other devices in the repair of long-bone fractures.

Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson

Dr. Patterson was identified as one of the most influential black veterinarians in U.S. history, according to historical research conducted by Cornell University’s Donald F. Smith. Orphaned before he was two years of age and raised by an older sister who encouraged him to get an education, Dr. Patterson received his veterinary degree from Iowa State University and his doctorate from Cornell. After becoming president of Tuskegee Institute (now University) in 1935, he overcame tremendous obstacles to establish a veterinary college for black students at a time when higher education in the South was generally segregated and there were only about 12 veterinary colleges in the country.

Left to right: Drs. John Brown, Lloyd Mobiley, and Frederick Douglass Patterson. Images from Kansas State University and Tuskegee University.

Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb

Dr. Johnson Webb was the first woman to graduate from the Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine. Webb taught biology and mathematics at North Carolina A&T College, and then went on to teach anatomy and coordinate the laboratory animal science program at North Carolina State University. She died in 1992.

Dr. Raymond Williams

Dr. Williams was department head in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University in 1950 and was selected to be an assistant veterinarian by the United Nationals Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. He spent the summer aboard ship administering healthcare to some seven hundred head of livestock on a transoceanic voyage to Poland.

Dr. Theodore Williams

Dr. Williams began his veterinary medical career in private practice in Kansas City, Kansas and served on the faculty at Prarie View College, Texas, as assistant veterinarian. He was employed by the Federal Meat Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture in Des Moines, Iowa. He was also appointed head of the Department of Pathology and Parasitology at Tuskegee.

Left to right: Drs. Alfreda Johnson Webb, Raymond Williams, and Theodore Williams. Images from Michigan State University and Kansas State University.