published Monday, February 24th, 2014

Smith: Black history: Honoring a great woman

By Robin Smith

Most people have never heard of Mildred Fay Jefferson. Her life of 84 years, however, demostrated excellence, intellect and attracted the attention of great leaders such as Ronald Reagan.

Dr. Jefferson quickly earned my respect and admiration after hearing her eloquent account of her life's path and devotion as a physician.

Born to a Methodist minister and a school teacher living in rural Texas, "Millie" followed a local doctor around her hometown of Carthage admiring his profession when she was a young woman. By age 16, she had earned a bachelor's degree from Texas College, a traditionally African-American institution near her home.

Jefferson's medical school dream was delayed due to her youth, so she entered Tufts University, receiving a master's degree while awaiting the calendar to qualify her to apply for medical school.

She applied to Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1951, the first African-American to do so. She was also the first female to practice at Boston's University Medical Center and the first female member of the Boston Surgical Society.

Honored by the group, the Histo-

ryMakers, that records the "personal stories of well-known and unsung African-Americans," Dr. Jefferson was heralded for "a career-long interest in medical jurisprudence, medical ethics and the interface between medicine and law, as well as their impact on public policy and society."

Dr. Jefferson became a voice for personal freedom and responsibility; for educational excellence; against socialized medicine. She was also a strong advocate for unborn children in the era that "birthed" the abortion-rights movement.

In Massachusetts, Dr. Jefferson was a founder of Citizens for Life. She also helped found the National Right to Life Committee, becoming its president from 1975 through 1978.

Dr. Jefferson's medical experience, her academic prowess and faith, placed her in the spotlight in very consequential times of policy and politics. After the airing of a PBS program, "The Advocates," on which she made a guest appearance, Dr. Jefferson received a hand-written note that concluded with this statement, "You have made it irrefutably clear that an abortion is the taking of a human life, I am grateful to you." The passage was signed by Ronald Reagan.

Dr. Jefferson's life devoted to "exposing the evils of eugenics, Planned Parenthood, and the abortion agenda," as described by the Radiance Foundation in its Black History month tribute in 2012, was multi-dimensional in purpose and principle.

She was a self-described "Lincoln Republican," but her God defined her politics, not the other way around.

Dr. Jefferson's view of welfare was dim as she observed in a 2009 radio interview: "Welfare is an organ of social control."

In consistently defending the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians to "do no harm" and "to give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and ... not cause an abortion," her standing in the medical community could not be challenged.

Her articulate statements left no question as to her standing on issues. In a 2003 interview with The American Feminist, she declared: "I became a physician in order to help save lives. I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow the concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live."

Honoring the power of a life which transcends race, gender, partisanship and status, I salute Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

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LibDem said...

Darn! Every time I see something like this, I have to mail off another check to Planned Parenthood. You're going to drive me into bankruptcy.

February 24, 2014 at 10:25 a.m.
LibDem said...

Interesting that Dr. Jefferson chose to have no children. They're someone else's problem, right?

February 24, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
hotdiggity said...

Seems Millie was not interested in having her own children but was insistent on others having their own? Perhaps she could have adopted a couple. I'm sure she made plenty of money to support them, unlike some others.

Defend the unborn but ignore them when they are born?

I guess the only thing Robin Smith would object to is she was welcomed to those nasty liberal colleges in the late 1940's and practiced medicine at that nasty liberal city of Boston.

Hmm, curious lack of any voice during the civil rights movement for a prestigious black woman. Ohh, I forgot, she was a Republican.

February 24, 2014 at 1:10 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Dr. Jefferson's grit and initiative are certainly to be commended. But it's a shame that she's turned out to think and act like a rich old white man of the GOP! "Welfare is an organ of social control?" And she has devoted her life to "exposing the evils of eugenics, Planned Parenthood, and the abortion agenda?" No wonder you admire this woman so much Ms. Smith - she's just like you and your rabid rightie ilk!

Pray tell, how can anyone, but especially a physician, not see the good that Planned Parenthood does? It is NOT an abortion mill. The tiny percentage of abortions they perform are vastly outweighed by the multitude of other beneficial services they provide, and what abortions they do provide are in no way tax funded.

And by the way, you conservatives do realize, don't you, that the "party of Lincoln" in no way resembles the Republican Party of today? Emancipating the slaves and placing a belief in a strong union with a central government above states' rights was actually LIBERAL in concept. And the GOP today is mouthing a hatred of all things liberal, as if liberalism is and always has been a plague. So enough already with trying to claim Lincoln as a Republican hero. He would have had nothing do with you Republicans today and you would have had nothing to do with him. Your praise of him is as misplaced as that which you lavish on Dr. King, another liberal icon whom you also like to claim as one of your own.

February 24, 2014 at 1:17 p.m.
schizka said...

Ever notice anytime republicans like this even remotely decide to congratulate a minority, especially African-American, it comes across as shallow and self-serving rather than sincere? Their words always appear spoken in a disdainful, demeaning and degrading manner rather than congratulatory. Their words still appear as if insulting to an entire racial or ethnic group of Americans? It's not difficult to sense and imagine the smell of racial stench coming from their mouths and the small minded circles in which they navigate.

February 24, 2014 at 1:38 p.m.
schizka said...

Rickaroor said: And by the way, you conservatives do realize, don't you, that the "party of Lincoln" in no way resembles the Republican Party of today?

I concur. Today's Republican Party would have been Lincoln's assassins in his time. Even if in words only they would have gone beyond whatever it took to destroy him politically and drag his name throught the mud. After they were done with Lincoln they'd have chased Mrs. Lincoln from the country as she was forced to temporarily leave the U.S. after the president was killed.

February 24, 2014 at 1:53 p.m.
ibshame said...

Nothing like the obligatory contribution from the GOP in Honor of African American History Month.

February 24, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

ibshame - Good one, LOL.

February 24, 2014 at 5:31 p.m.
volsam said...

ibshame, I guess it's damned if you do or damned if you don't. You should feel ashamed of yourself you moron.

February 24, 2014 at 5:52 p.m.
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