A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

AMA Apologizes for Past Racism

AMA Apologizes for Past Racism

July 11, 2008

The largest professional association for American physicians, the American Medical Association (AMA), issued an apology today for a history of racial bias and exclusion against black physicians (news report here). Past practices of the AMA that were acknowledged in the apology included the exclusions of blacks from AMA membership, and the Association’s silence during Congressional decisions on federal funding for segregated hospitals and other civil rights issues.

Past President Ronald Davies said, ""The medical profession, which is based on a boundless respect for human life, had an obligation to lead society away from disrespect of so many lives. The AMA failed to do so and has apologized for that failure. Our goal is to identify and study racial and ethnic health care disparities in order to eradicate them."

The AMA apology underscores the legacy of racism, exclusion and structural injustice that contribute to the health disparities that we continue to see in the United States.

The black physician group, the National Medical Association, accepted today’s apology. NMA’s Chair of the Board of Trustees noted, "These persistent, race-based health disparities have led to a precipitous decline in the health of African-Americans when compared to their white counterparts and the population as a whole." She added, "In accepting this apology for past wrongs, it is important we seize this opportunity to move forward to correct these injustices."
Camille Watson