A CENTURY AGO, 12 African-American physicians, barred from joining local and national medical organizations and unable to obtain hospital privileges for treating their patients, gathered to form what became the National Medical Association (NMA). This year, African-American physicians for the first time head a half dozen of the most prestigious medical organizations in the United States.
For its 100th annual meeting, the NMA went back to Atlanta, Ga, where it began.
On a hot Sunday morning in July, several hundred members walked the three blocks from the headquarters hotel to the First Congregational Church at the corner of Courtland Street and John W. Dobbs Drive in downtown Atlanta to celebrate their organization's founding in the church in 1895. Segregation was the law of the land at the time, reaffirmed by a Supreme Court decision, Plessy vs Ferguson, the following year.
"Conceived in no spirit of racial exclusiveness, fostering no ethnic