PHOTO: University of Miss. Medical Center
JACKSON, Miss.–For several years Dr. Aaron Shirley was the only black pediatrician in the state. In 1965 he was the only African-American pediatric resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. But, he continued to achieve until his death Wednesday at age 81.
Born in Gluckstadt in 1933, Shirley attended Tougaloo College and got his medical degree from Meharry Medical College.
After that, he began serving his home state, going to rural areas where doctors were scarce. He was known for installing wells so people could have clean drinking water.
During the Civil Rights era, he advocated non-violence and perhaps his greatest form of protest for equality was his medical practice. He paved the way for other black doctors in Mississippi to serve as equals with white doctors.
Though a pioneer in the 1960s and 70s, Shirley continued to push for better medical care for the underserved and underprivileged, helping establish the Jackson Medical Mall in the declining Jackson Mall building in 1995.
He founded the HealthConnect program in 2010, which helped provide doctors for people in rural areas.
Shirley has been recognized around the world for his achievements.