Dr. Edith Irby Jones, who was the first black person to attend and graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, and the first black woman to intern at Baylor College of Medicine-affiliated hospital, passed away in Houston. She was 91 years old.
As per the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Dr. Jones made a huge breakthrough by being accepted into UAMS, but she still had study medicine under segregation. Dr. Jones was made to use different dining, lodging, and bathroom facilities. But at the time, many of her classmates defied the rules and sat with her anyway.
Speaking to FOX 26, Dr. Jones’ family said that the pioneer doctor’s fascination for medicine began at the tender age of 8 when she lost her 12-year-old sister to typhoid fever. Dr. Jones herself suffered from rheumatic fever but still pursued her career.
Dr. Jones enrolled in Knoxville College and in 1948, she was the first person to get accepted into UAMS. During her second year in medical school, she married Dr. James B. Jones and went on to have three children with him.
In 1952, Dr. Jones became the first black person to graduate UAMS. She later would open a practice in Hot Springs. Seven years later, Dr. Jones moved to Houston and interned at Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospital, becoming the first black woman to attend the college. She would later go on to complete her last three months of residency at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Jones was among several black physicians who had founded Mercy Hospital. She was also one of 12 doctors who owned and developed the Park Plaza Hospitals. Over time, the Houston Hospital was renamed as the Edith Irby Jones M.D. Health Care Center in her honor.
The good doctor’s career didn’t just concentrate on medicine. Dr. Jones was also a voracious civil rights activists who worked alongside other civil leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was also a member of the ‘Freedom Four’, a group of people who traveled to various homes and churches located in the south to empower people to join the civil rights movements.
May she rest in peace.