Nashville Church Remembers 1st African-American Female Surgeon

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-17 19:22:36-05

Nashvillians have been remembering the first African-American female surgeon in the Southeast who served the community for more than two decades.

Dorothy Brown, Tennessee's first black legislator, was the chief surgeon at the historic Riverside Hospital from 1957 to 1983.

Riverside Chapel SDA Church in Nashville held an event remembering Brown's medical impact and support for the black community.

"My mother wanted to help people who had been underserved for so long, who have not had a chance to experience a lot of the things that some of us were not able to experience," daughter Lola Brown said.

During the event, Brown spoke about how her mother helped the community.

"I used to watch my mother give to people her medical services. People who had no money, who needed to be treated and were not able because they were too poor," Brown said.

For decades, Riverside hospital was a place African-Americans could visit for treatment.

At one time, the hospital, along with Nashville General Hospital, was the only source of health care for African-Americans in Middle Tennessee.

"We need to begin to support what is rightfully ours," Brown said about Nashville General Hospital's future.

"If we don't start supporting it, then we don't have any other choice but to close down Nashville General at Meharry. Riverside was one of the many places in Nashville that treated the black patient," she said.

Chairman of the Riverside Historical Society Bennie Thompson said how important it is to remember the history.

Thompson said as a community, current medical students need to be encouraged to start a practice within the Nashville community. 

"We don't have those dollars turning anymore as when Riverside existed," he said.

Saturday's event was part of the church's Black History Month celebration.