Wright, Louis T. (Surgeon)

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wright_louis_t_2_300x300Louis Tompkins Wright (July 23, 1891 – October 8, 1952) was an American surgeon noted for his work in Harlem. The 1940 Spingarn Medallist played a major role in investigating the use of Aureomycin as a treatment on humans.

Wright, a native of LaGrange, Georgia, received his bachelor’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in 1911 before getting his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1915. His efforts related to Civil Rights began in college when he missed three weeks of school to join picket lines protesting The Birth of a Nation. He went on to graduate fourth in his class and was a Captain in the Army Medical Corps in France in World War I. During the war he introduced intradermal vaccination for smallpox, was gassed and won the Purple Heart. On returning to the United States he moved to New York, and in 1919 he became the first African American on the surgical staff of Harlem Hospital. In 1934 he became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He worked there for thirty years, started the Harlem Hospital Bulletin, headed the team that first used Aureomycin, and founded the hospital’s cancer research center. He became an expert on head injuries. He died of tuberculosis in 1952.
Wright also served as chairman of the national board of directors of the N.A.A.C.P.

Wright came from a medical family, the child of Dr. Ceah Ketcham Wright, a physician graduated from Meharry Medical College, and stepson of William Fletcher Penn, the first African-American graduate from Yale School of Medicine. He married public school teacher Corinne Cooke, and the couple had two daughters, Jane Cooke Wright and Barbara Wright Pierce, both of whom also became physicians and researchers.

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