Opening Doors, Forging New Paths

Winter Institute

In 1965, Dr. Aaron Shirley became the first African American resident at the University Medical Center (UMC), the state's only medical school, in Jackson. In 1967, Reuben Anderson became the first African American graduate of the University of Mississippi


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In 1965, Dr. Aaron Shirley became the first African American resident at the University Medical Center (UMC), the state's only medical school, in Jackson. In 1967, Reuben Anderson became the first African American graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Behind the integration of the UM professional schools were two men in positions of leadership who took an unusual stand to open doors for black students: Dr. Blair Batson at UMC, who welcomed Dr. Shirley, and Dean Joshua Morse, who recruited Mr. Anderson and other African American students. The two leaders, both from Poplarville, Mississippi, grew up near each other, and their mothers were close friends.

Since 2006, the Winter Institute has been conducting an oral history project about these integrations and the people behind them.

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