Celebrating the African American Pioneers in Pharmacy

4 months ago  •  Add Comment  •  by Amanda Alfredson

Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history. This month we are taking the time to celebrate just some of the many achievements by Black Americans in the pharmacy community.

Sidney Barthwell was the founder of the largest black-owned drugstore chain in the US; Barthwell Drugs. He owned 13 pharmacy and/or ice cream shops throughout Detroit between 1933 and 1987. He was extremely influential in which he prioritized hiring other African Americans or found them jobs in other pharmacies in the city.

Anna Louise James was one of the first female, African-American Pharmacists in the US and the first in Connecticut. James was an escaped slave who become the first African American woman to graduate from Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in New York. Her brother-in-law owned a pharmacy in Connecticut and left it to her in 1917 when he went to fight in WWI where she renamed her business, James Pharmacy.

Alfred & Billie Caviel were the first African American couple to own and operate a pharmacy in the US. They operated their pharmacy for 49 years and in 2015 the Caviel Museum of African-American History was established here in 2015; becoming the first African-American Museum in West Texas.

James McCune Smith was the first African American to not only hold a medical degree, but also to run a pharmacy in the US. Despite his accomplishments in the medical field, he was most known for his leadership as an abolitionist and his strong influence on Frederick Douglas.

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