considers that the National Dental Association, which was organized as a professional
group for Negro dentists, was formed in 1905.
National Dental Association,
Although the details of the name changes of The Journal and the degree to which The
Journal’s leaders were aware of the National Association of Negro Dentists are unclear,
what is clear is that the experiences of then Negro and now Black dentists have followed
a unique trajectory in comparison with White dentists. As the American Dental Association
celebrates this important anniversary of its journal, it is important to reflect on
the experiences of Black dentists during this time frame. This editorial focuses on
the experiences of Black dentists not to the exclusion of other historically and contemporarily
minoritized dentists, but to elevate a legacy of dentists that is rooted in the 1869
graduation of Robert Tanner Freeman, the first known person of African descent to
graduate from a dental school in the United States. From Dr. Freeman’s graduation
to the many firsts in dentistry that followed, Black dentists have in the famed words
of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
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The Growth and Development of the Negro in Dentistry in the United States.
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Dr. Fleming is the assistant dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and a clinical associate professor, Department of Dental Public Health, University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Baltimore, MD.
Dr. Mitchell is the executive vice president for University Life, senior vice provost for Faculty Advancement, and a professor of dental medicine at Irving Medical Center, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Published online: December 22, 2022
In Press Corrected Proof
Disclosures. Drs. Fleming and Mitchell did not report any disclosures.
Guest editorials represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the American Dental Association.
© 2022 American Dental Association. All rights reserved.
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