K-State 150: African-American students at the College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University celebrated its 150th birthday, or sesquicentennial, in 2013. As part of the celebration, Lifelines shared a series of monthly features devoted to different aspect of the history of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Below is this month's feature. Tolearn more about the past, present and future for America’s first land grant institution and Kansas’ first public university, visit http://www.k-state.edu/150/.
From the June 2013 issue of Lifelines (Vol. 8, No. 6)
African-American students at the College of Veterinary Medicine
|The city of Manhattan has participated for several years in an event known as Juneteenth, which is a celebration based on the historical nationwide announcement of the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War. The event in Manhattan celebrates freedom and emphasizes the outstanding achievements and educational contributions of African Americans. To contribute toward this celebration this month, we look at the role of African-American students and graduates who have studied at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Between, 1889 and 1950, it is estimated there were only about 70 African-American students who graduated from veterinary colleges in the United States. Of that number, 24 graduated from Kansas State University, which is more than any other veterinary institution in the U.S. during that same time period.|
|Dr. John William Brown was born in Tennessee, but later moved to Kansas and attended Ft. Scott High School. He entered K-State at age 16 and earned his DVM in 1912. He was the head of agricultural instruction at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year and was later commissioned as a second lieutenant during World War I, where he was assigned to Veterinary Training School at Camp Lee, Va. In the 1930 census, he was listed as a veterinary surgeon in Ft. Scott. He also reported to have done meat inspection work for the USDA. Dr. Brown is not too far behind the other first African-Americans at K-State. George Washington Owens was the first male graduate in 1899, and Minnie Howell was the first female graduate of the college in 1901. The veterinary degree program was established in 1905 and the first graduating class was in 1907, so Dr. Brown was in the fifth class to graduate with a veterinary degree from K-State.|
K-State's first African-American fraternity was Phi Beta Sigma. It was established at K-State in 1917 and was the first chapter of the national fraternity on a racially mixed campus west of the Mississippi River. Out of an archived list of members from 1917 to 1935, eight were identified as veterinary medicine students and only one did not finish his degree. There were only two African-American veterinary graduates during this time period who were not members of Phi Beta Sigma, which illustrates the significance of this fraternity in promoting higher educational opportunities for African-Americans.
Diversity at the CVM Today
The College of Veterinary Medicine continues to promote diversity today by: educating veterinarians and veterinary students about the value of racial and ethnic diversity and the need to understand and incorporate the strengths of differing world views that various groups bring with them; providing students of all ethnicities currently in veterinary medical education an opportunity to enhance their understanding of the impact that changing demographics and cultural perspectives will have on their future professional life and the way they serve as veterinarians; building on the examples of success and outstanding service rendered the profession by veterinarians of all races and ethnic backgrounds in all aspects of veterinary medicine; and recalling and building upon the role the CVM and other colleges of veterinary medicine, the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine included, have had in furthering the contributions of under-represented minority veterinarians.
Sources:A Historical Overview of African American Veterinarians in the United States: 1889–2000 by Dr. Eugene Adams
Prominent African Americans In Veterinary Medicine
The "Dangerous" Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.