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Emory Apologizes for Rejecting Student Based on Race in 1959

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The Emory University School of Medicine has apologized to Marion Gerald Hood for rejecting his application because of his race over 60 years ago. 

Demonstrating its commitment to increased diversity and inclusion, the medical school invited Hood to speak about his experience at a Juneteenth event.

Carolyn Meltzer, an executive associate dean in the School of Medicine, said in a statement that acknowledging past actions will help the institution achieve an empowered future.

“Our conversations with Dr. Hood have solidified the School of Medicine’s commitment to accountability, in alignment with the university’s strategic goals for a more inclusive Emory,” Meltzer said.

Race-Based Admissions

In his talk, Hood opened up about how he got into medicine, including his rejection at Emory. Initially, he had not considered the school as among his options, but he decided to apply after he witnessed a professor from Emory receive an honorary degree during Hood’s commencement ceremony from Clark College.

“And when they gave him the honorary degree, I said to myself, ‘Gosh, he can come over here at my school and get an honorary degree, and I can’t even put my foot on his campus.’ And I didn’t think that was quite right,” Hood said.

Hood applied to medical school and was rejected within a week. Hood knew that the admissions committee had not even taken the time to review his credentials, as the director of admissions wrote “I am sorry I must write you that we are not authorized to consider for admission a member of the negro race.” 

However, he was later accepted into the medical school at Loyola University where he specialized in gynecology and obstetrics.

Emory desegregated in 1962, admitting its first Black medical student, Hamilton Holmes, the following year.

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