Black history in the chiropractic profession is a very obscure subject. 95% of what I’m sharing here, I only learned in the last two days. I found these tidbit both interesting and eye-opening. Hopefully you do, too.
1.) Harvey Lillard was an African American owner/operator of a janitorial business in the Ryan building in Davenport, IA where DD Palmer kept his office.
In 1895, Palmer gave Lillard the 1st chiropractic adjustment, and Lillard’s hearing was restored.
Sadly, when DD Palmer founded Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897, he did so with the school policy of “No negros allowed.”
2.) Dr. Fred Rubel, a 1913 graduate of National School of Chiropractic, and the first black chiropractor.
He established Rubel College of Chiropractic in 1914 “to open the field of instruction to all races, no matter what the color of their skin may be, so as particularly to give members of the colored race an opportunity to learn one of the greatest modern professions—Chiropractic.”
3.) Rubel College of Chiropractic on the left. On the right is Julian Dawson, MD, anatomy teacher for Rubel College of Chiropractic.
4.) Clarence Reaver, DC. When an African American student showed promise, he challenged BJ Palmer to accept the student into Palmer School, but a large contingent of students hailing from the south threatened to walk out. BJ Palmer buckled due to nearly all of Palmer College of Chiropractic income coming from student tuition, and denied the applicant admission. Reaver went on to found Reaver College of Chiropractic in Dayton, OH.
Interestingly enough, Clarence Reaver’s brother Herbert Reaver went down as the most jailed chiropractor of all time, defying persecution of “practicing medicine without a license” before the chiropractic profession achieved licensure in Ohio. The Reaver brothers were truly heroes to many, many people in their lives.
5.) African American students at Reaver College of Chiropractic. Their student body consisted of 2 black students for every 1 white student.
6.) Bobby Westbrooks, DC. Helped form the American Black Chiropractic Association in 1982.
7.) Willard Smith, DC. The 1st African American elected to head a major chiropractic association (California Chiropractic Association) in 1990.
8.) Jerry Hardee, EdD was the first African American president of a chiropractic school, serving as president of Sherman College of Chiropractic from 2001-2005.
Thank you for this, Dr. Harshe! I am a first quarter Chiropractic student– African American as well. This was awesome information and a mere boost in confidence and inspiration to get through Chiropractic school.
Dr. Brandon Harshe
Very awesome! Glad you enjoyed it!
Thomas Miller, DC
Hello Dr. Harshe, I’ve been in practice for over 34 years and this has been eye opening for me. This is great information. I heard a lot about Herbert Weaver and always thought that he was caucasian. This has been very enlightening. Thanks for all of your efforts in bringing more light that makes me feel even more proud that I am a chiropractor. Dr. Tom Miller
Dr. Brandon Harshe
The Reavers were caucasian, but also a couple of amazing individuals, too! And I’m glad you found some good info here! Thank you!