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Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    James Slade was the second African American to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He started there in 1952, embracing the challenges and limitations of attending UNC-Chapel Hill, including one racist professor. Slade eventually decided to become a pediatrician: the specialty attracted warm-hearted doctors less prone to prejudice. He began private practice in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1965, where for many years he was the only black physician. In this interview, he recalls the gradual integration of medical practice in Edenton and describes his experiences as one of very few African American medical professionals in his area. Slade, who is joined by his wife, Catherine, focuses on the challenges of medical care at the intersection of race, poverty, and rural isolation. Poor patients, black and white, had a unique set of needs that Slade worked to serve despite limited access to medical technology and peers with whom to collaborate. As he did so, he earned the loyalty of a black community that in addition to its unique medical needs—such as treatment for diabetes and hypertension—made unique demands of its doctor. Toward the end of this interview, Slade also describes some of the changes that have affected the business of medicine in the past few decades and his concerns about the health of the black community.
    Excerpts
  • Attending the recently desegregated UNC-Chapel Hill medical school
  • Less racism among pediatricians
  • Compromising on race to meet labor needs at a hospital
  • Few barriers for a black student at UNC-Chapel Hill's medical school
  • A black doctor's primarily black patients
  • Deciding to return home to practice medicine
  • A desegregation of convenience at a Chowan County hospital
  • Limitations for a rural physician
  • Semi-segregation at UNC-Chapel Hill's dining hall
  • The health impacts of racism and poverty
  • Black midwives offer low-cost care to the black community
  • Black doctors, part of a community that values sharing, are not threatened by socialized medicine
  • Racism leads to poor health and an ailing community
  • Markers of racial progress, markers of a lack thereof in Edenton
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.