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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Segregated medical education in North Carolina

Salter remembers segregated medical education in this excerpt. North Carolina offered grants for African Americans to study outside the state, but did not allow them to attend medical schools in state. Lawrence Zollicoffer desegregated the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine in the late 1950s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I have uncovered in my research several African-Americans who were really pushing for black medical education in North Carolina. The original Medical Care Commission report back in 1945 made that supposedly a goal of the health plan of the state, to increase medical education for blacks. When the debates started about expanding UNC to a four-year school, there were people who said, "If you're going to have a four-year school, you've got to admit blacks." There were also various plans for a regional medical school, sending people out of state, etcetera. I just wondered if you were aware of any of those debates, or do you remember people talking about that?
SALTER COCHRAN:
I remember it actually occurring, because they did not admit blacks to any medical schools in the state. They would pay your tuition at Meharry [Medical College in Nashville, TN] and you could go to medical school there. Well, a lot of guys applied so that they could go there free, because the state had to pay their four years medical school. [The state paid the difference in tuition and expenses between attending school out of state and the cost of enrollment at North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham]. They were talking about integration when we got here [in 1950], and it never did go into effect untilߞyou said Diggs was the first in 1951? I wasn't aware of that. We had a friend here who got in in the late '50s, he was the fourth black that they admitted [to the UNC School of Medicine]. Lawrence Zollicoffer. He finished high school in this area at age 13, finished A & T at the age of 16, and had his master's by the time he was 18. He went out in the field and taught agriculture at the high school level. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE A] [START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
SALTER COCHRAN:
I was saying that [Lawrence Zollicoffer] applied to the UNC School of Medicine in the early '60s. Zollicoffer was a brilliant man, he finished number two in the class, one-tenth of a point behind the top student. Now you know who finished tops in the class. He told me that all the students told him he finished at the top. But they weren't going to let that happen. So he left, and he was the first black to intern at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, DC. He left Washington and did a residency in Baltimore, I believe, at Johns Hopkins. He was the first there. And he did a double run in pediatrics and internal medicine. He got his boards in both. Unfortunately, at the age of 45, he died of cancer of the colon. He's buried right up here in Littleton, North Carolina. Lawrence Zollicoffer, the fourth black to finish the University of North Carolina Medical School. And he finished one-tenth of a point from the topߞnow how do you determine that?