Anthony W. Neal, a native of Boston, is a graduate of Concord Academy. In addition to an A.B. with honors in history from Brown University, he holds a J.D. from University of Texas School of Law. A retired attorney, Neal maintained a law office in Boston’s South End and Lower Roxbury, handling civil matters for over twenty-five years. He has taught in the Africana Studies Department at University of Massachusetts-Boston and is the author of the book, Unburdened by Conscience, and many scholarly articles. He is now writing a history book about black Bostonians at the turn of the twentieth century. Neal is also an artist.
Pioneer dentist paved the way for blacks and women with career that spanned decades
Dr. Jessie Katherine (Gideon) Garnett was the first black woman to graduate from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and also the first to practice dentistry in Boston.
The National Conference of Colored Women of America lead to the creation of the National Association of Colored Women, which became and remained the major national organization of African American Women until 1935, when one of its former presidents founded the National Council of Negro Women.
With unfailing courtesy and diplomatic tact, Sergeant Horatio Julius Homer, the first African American appointed to the Boston Police Department, served 40 faithful years as police commission guard.
Known as a pioneer in the black women’s club movement, journalist, suffragist and civil rights activist, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin issued the first call for a national convention of African American women and thus laid the groundwork for the eventual formation of the National Association of Colored Women.
Civil rights pioneer Mary Evans Wilson dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of African Americans.
African American surgeon Dr. John Van Surly DeGrasse, between the years 1850 and 1860, was regarded as the most cultured and accomplished black in the world, according to historian William Henry Ferris.
After having spent more than a decade of his childhood in bondage, in the late 19th century African American Joseph Lee became one of the most talked about hotel proprietors and restaurateurs in New England.
Robert H. Carter is believed to be the first African American certified pharmacist in Massachusetts. During a period from 1869 to 1907 he owned drugstores in New Bedford and Boston. Back then drugstores did not have a huge inventory of prefabricated drugs as are available today at CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens. Pharmacists had to be able to formulate medications for doctors’ prescriptions.
Dr. John S. Rock, a preeminent mid-19th century black abolitionist, dentist, doctor and lawyer, was one of Boston’s most eloquent and uncompromising champions of the rights of African Americans.
One hundred and nineteen years ago, on the evening of Aug. 21, 1894, the interest of Boston’s Colored National League (CNL), "a non-partisan organization devoted to the welfare of the race," was aroused by the spirited address of African American abolitionist, author and poet Mrs. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper of Philadelphia, Pa.