In a talk on October 7th sponsored by the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration and by the History, Science and Justice Collective, Professor John Mckiernan-González of Texas State University explored how Latino physicians engaged and shaped civil rights movements in the United States from 1900 to 1960. Mckiernan-González is the author of Fevered Measures: Public Health and Race at the Texas-Mexico Border, 1848-1942 (Duke University Press, 2012) and the co-editor of Precarious Prescriptions: Contested Histories of Race and Health in North America (University of Minnesota, 2013).
Yale students and faculty members from the Yale Medical School, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and elsewhere heard Mckiernan-González describe doctors such as Mary Headley Treviño – a women’s suffrage activist — and Jorge Prieto, and Hector P. García and Helen Rodriguez-Trías, all of whom demanded recognition of Latinos’ medical rights. Analyzing medical directories from the continental United States and Puerto Rico, Mckiernan-González drew attention to the nation’s small number of Latino and Latina doctors for most of the twentieth century. According to Mckiernan-González, many U.S. medical schools excluded Latinos after World War I, and Mexican and Cuban universities therefore remained critical for training Spanish-surnamed doctors in the United States. But by the 1950s and 1960s, civil rights movements shaped in part by those doctors opened new educational and professional opportunities for aspiring physicians.
During his time at Yale, Mckiernan-González also met with doctoral students in the History of Science and History of Medicine Program, and with students and faculty members in American Studies, ER&M, and History.