The First Black Woman Licenced to Practice Medicine in the State of Georgia
The first African-American woman to practice Medicine in Georgia, United States.
Born after the emancipation proclamation in 1864 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to George and Emily Washington Grier, Dr. Eliza Ann Grier was an emancipated slave who had had to fight through several obstacles including racial and gender discrimination to achieve her goal of getting a license to practice medicine.
In 1884, Dr. Grier moved to Tennessee where she attended Fisk University in Nashville. Though she initially wanted to become a teacher, she’d later grow to have an interest in the medical field.
To pay for her school expenses, Dr, Grier had to alternate between years in school and work before finally graduating in 1891.
Even though she had graduated with a degree in Education, Grier dreamed of something more especially in a society where fewer opportunities were made available to her kind, so just about a year before her graduation, she concluded that being a medical doctor would make her more useful and influential in her society.
Dr. Grier then wrote to the dean of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, expressing her interest in going there and enquiring if she would be given a chance — being that she was limited financially and considering her race and gender. Fortunately, in 1893, she got accepted into the college but without any financial assistance from the school, as she had hoped. So once again, she had to adopt her previous strategy to pay for her tuition.
She would work one year picking Cotton and use her earnings to pay for the following year’s academic year. Though it took her seven years, Dr. Grier finally graduated with a second degree in medicine.
Her Short Career
After Dr. Grier graduated in 1897, she relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. There she applied for a license to practice medicine in Fulton County and was granted one. So she immediately set up her private medical practice where she specialized in gynecology and obstetrics. After a couple of years, she then moved her medical practice to Greenville, South Carolina but unfortunately, her practice was cut short due to contracting influenza. For about a month and a half, Dr. Grier couldn’t attend to any of her patients. Though she tried to seek assistance from several people including Susan B. Anthony but couldn't get much help. Sadly, she died in 1902 at the age of 35 not even getting the chance to live out her dreams long enough.