Dr. Edith Irby Jones

I really didn’t think about when I applied to medical school that there was a possibility of my not being accepted. The University of Arkansas was one of the ones that was on my list to apply to. It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a question about my race. It was close to home, but MOST of all why I accepted it— it had a tuition of 500 dollars. On the day of orientation, Dr. Schenalt, the dean at that time called me in and said, “We have some situations. The state law requires us...” At that time, blacks and whites could not eat together in a public situation. They could not use the same toilet facilities, by state law. So I accepted that. I didn’t have any choice. I was not trying to desegregate, I was not trying to change any laws, I felt... I just wanted a medical education. The kitchen help would always put on fresh flowers every day. A change of flowers, never the same. It either came from their yard, or from someplace, but always... never a word spoken, never an encouraging word saying, “we’re proud of you,” nothing said, nothing to say “if you need help, come to us,” none of that. It was just a sort of unspoken, “we are here.” The reason that I have stayed in Houston, and the reason that I have stayed in “third ward” Houston, is because it allows me to do what I want to do. I see those who cannot afford to go to the other areas, even in Houston, to get medical care. I see those who cannot pay a parking fee because there is a charge for parking. I see people who are ashamed to go in and say, “I don’t have any money, but I’m sick.” People give me my passion. To be able to encourage someone who would not have achieved their potential. To be able to help the physical body to heal, that would not have been healed, or a family would have lost that member. To send someone off having the same feeling that I have— that the world is mine.