Dallas-Fort Worth Black Living Legends: Health

Eddie Bernice Johnson, 1987

Eddie Bernice Johnson (1935 - ) worked as a registered nurse at St. Paul Hospital in Dallas before being elected as the first Black woman in the Texas House of Representatives from Dallas County. In this role, she was instrumental in having Black people placed in positions such as Justice of the Peace and Constable. Johnson then served in the Texas Senate, until running for a new U.S. House of Representatives seat which she has held since 1993. Johnson has been a leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has served on numerous science and technology caucuses, and continues to fight for civil rights for people of color and the LGBTQ community.

Ollie Lee McMillian-Mason, 1991

Ollie Lee McMillan Mason (1905 - 2013) was the daughter of a Black physician, which surely influenced her desire to work in the health care profession. She graduated from Freedman’s Hospital School of Nursing in Washington, DC, and returned to Dallas to work as Chief Nurse in the sanitarium opened by her father Dr. W.R. McMillan, which specialized in surgery and obstetrics. She later enrolled at Bellview Hospital in New York to study obstetrics, and returned to Dallas to become the first Black nurse employed at Parkland Hospital. She worked as the Night Supervisor in the Obstetrics Division for four years before becoming a public health nurse with the Dallas Health Department. Her work led her to study and teach on the care of premature babies in clinics throughout Dallas. In her later career, Mason worked as a hearing technician for the Dallas Independent School District for fourteen years, served in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, and ended her career working at the Tremont Health Care Center in Dallas, where she retired in 1989.

Dr. Robert Prince, 1992

Dr. Robert Prince (1930 - 2019) earned degrees in Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1960. He put his knowledge and skills to work, addressing social and health issues of the Dallas Black community. Dr. Prince went to work at Presbyterian Hospital and Medical Arts Hospital as a member of the attending staff, and beginning in 1964 he worked at the Women’s Clinic in South Dallas as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. He saw a need for Black women who were not receiving adequate care because of racism, and so formed the first partnership of Black OB/GYNs in Dallas. He treated hundreds of patients, and was at the forefront of expanding maternal health care for poor and working families in Dallas County. Dr. Prince served on the Board of Planned Parenthood, the Dallas County Child Welfare Board, and was Chairman of the Dallas Commission for Health and Human Services.

Dr. Claude Williams Sr., 1993

Dr. Claude Williams Sr. (1929 - ) earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1954, and went on to earn a Certificate of Proficiency in Orthodontics. Dr. Williams served in the US Navy from 1954 to 1956 and continued his military career in the Naval Reserves until he retired at the rank of Captain in 1981. He became the first Black orthodontist in the southwest. Dr. Williams opened his practices to provide for the underserved Black community of Marshall, TX, but he was instrumental in other areas of the Civil Rights as well. He served as the President of the State Dental Society and the National Dental Association, two Black dentist societies, during the Civil Rights Movement, and was eventually requested to review Civil Rights Program in Texas by the Texas Civil Rights Commission. In 1971, Dr. Williams joined the faculty at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, while also maintaining a private practice in South Dallas for nearly 30 years. He spent his time as faculty member educating and supporting underrepresented students pursuing careers in dentistry. He has been honored with numerous awards for his career and Civil Rights work.

Claude McCain Jr., 1994

Claude McCain Jr. (1931 - 1995) was hired as Parkland Hospital’s first Black administrator in 1969, after earning his bachelor’s degree, working at Parkland Hospital as a research assistant, and then earning a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Cornell University in 1969. He began his administrative career at Parkland Hospital as the director of the personnel department, and then moved through various promotions to become the vice president. McCain ran Parkland’s minority development program, and made a point to connect with hospital staff, especially those on the night shift who did not have regular hours with the administration. During McCain’s career he also held notable positions such as Field Investigator in the Office of Equal Health Opportunity for the US Public Health Service. His work in health touched many lives in Dallas and Texas, and he was honored with a resolution by the Texas House of Representatives.

Dr. Strotha E. Hardeman Jr., 1995

Dr. Strotha E. Hardeman Jr. (1929 - 2010) began his course of study towards a career in dentistry in the 1940s, and after pausing his education to serve in the military, Hardeman went on to earn a degree in Dental Technology from Meharry Medical College in 1956 and a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Meharry School of Dentistry in 1963. Upon completion of his education, Hardeman returned to his home town of Fort Worth to serve his community. He opened his own practice in 1964, becoming the first Black dentist to open a practice on the north side of Fort Worth. Dr. Hardeman sought to better his community, and was always willing to act as a mentor to aspiring and younger dentists. He was one of the first Black dentists to join the Fort Worth District Dental Society, and he was a member of various other organizations including the NAACP, Fort Worth Ambassadors Club, and the American Dental Association.

Willie Mae Hardeman, 1996

Willie Mae Hardeman (1934 - ) a South Carolina native has dedicated her life to helping and serving others through her nursing career. Hardeman’s mother was a registered nurse, and Hardeman followed in her footsteps. She graduated from the University Hospital, Medical College of Augusta, Georgia in 1955, and worked as a Registered Nurse at hospitals in George, Tennessee, and Texas. While in Tennessee, Hardeman served as the Head Nurse in Surgery at Meharry Medical College. After moving to Fort Worth, Hardeman took a position at St. Joseph Hospital where she worked for 31 years. Most recently she worked as a surgery nurse at Columbia Plaza Medical Center. Hardeman has been active in the nursing community as a member of the Association of Operating Room Nurses and Gulf State Dental Auxiliary, as well as with her community, acting as a member of the NAACP and a Sunday School teacher and interpreter with the deaf ministry at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

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