Emory University Apologizes for Rejecting Medical Student Because He Was Black

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Emory University’s School of Medicine has issued a formal apology to a former applicant who was rejected 62 years ago by the academic institute because he was Black.

Marion Hood applied to Emory’s medical school in 1959. He says he received the rejection less than a week later.

“I am sorry I must write you that we are not authorized to consider for admission a member of the Negro race,” the school’s director of admissions, L. L. Clegg wrote at the time.

Emory remained segregated until 1962. The university returned Hood’s $5 application fee.

However, this year, Hood received another letter from the school. This time, the tone was far more welcoming.

“Your rejection letter serves as a somber reminder that generations of talented young men and women were denied educational opportunities because of their race, and our society was denied their full potential,” said the letter, signed by Vikas P. Sukhatme, dean of the Emory University School of Medicine.

“An apology does not undo our actions. It is an acknowledgment of the pain that was caused by our school, and an opportunity for us to share our regret directly with you.”

The letter was sent to Hood in March.

As part of the school’s Juneteenth programming, Hood was also issued an apology during a virtual event.

“In 1959, Marion Hood received a letter of rejection for no other reason than the fact that he was Black. To those who understand the history of our country that should not be a surprise,” Emory’s president, Gregory L. Fenves, said at the event. “This one individual and this one letter vividly shows the systematic injustice of that time and the legacy Emory is still reckoning with.”

Hood added: “Life is full of hurdles. But the thing that I thought is if there’s a hurdle there, there must be a way to get around it or over it.”

Emory admitted its first Black medical student, Hamilton E. Holmes, in the fall of 1963.

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