It’s taken about eight decades, but the American Academy of Pediatrics is finally formally apologizing to two Black doctors, Doctors Alonzo deGrate Smith and Roland Boyd Scott, whose applications for membership it repeatedly rejected.
“This apology is long overdue,” AAP President Dr. Sally Goza noted, as the association released a new policy statement on Wednesday, according to CNN.
“The AAP is celebrating our 90th anniversary this year — and we have accomplished a lot of good things for children,” Goza added. “But we must also acknowledge where we have failed to live up to our ideals. That is the only way we can work together to build a better future.”
As CNN reports, Doctors Smith and Scott first sought membership with the association in 1939, however, as the pediatrics group put it, “they faced a ‘shameful gauntlet to membership'” that lasted the next six years, “through multiple meetings of the AAP Executive Committee.”
Both men, who were clinicians and facutly members at Howard University College of Medicine, were finally given membership in 1945.
However, despite the triumph, they still had to deal with systemic racism and other barriers, AAP News noted in a 2019 report.
At one point, an AAP leader traveled to D.C., where the two men resided, to meet with them. He then reported that both doctors expressed that they only wanted to join the association for educational purposes. The doctors then declined to attend any AAP meetings held south of the Mason-Dixon Line, citing concerns for their safety.
“Formally reckoning with past transgressions and calling racism by name is the only path forward for authentic advancement of the equity agenda within the Academy,” Dr. Joseph Wright, AAP Board of Directors member, said in a statement, according to CNN.”At this inflection point in our nation’s history, it is fitting that the Academy is publicly and transparently highlighting its continued leadership commitment to address all threats to the health and well-being of children and their families.”