Adventures in FeministoryThey Called Her Dr. D, Part One

An abbreviated version of this comic appears in our 2017 Winter issue, Devotion. This is the first in a two-part series that celebrates the life and work of Dr. Dorothy Brown. Stay tuned for part two, and subscribe today!

Illustration of swaddled baby. Text reads: Dorothy Brown, born: circa 1919, died: 2004. Just an infant, Dorothy Brown was placed in a New York orphanage. Her mother couldn't take care of her.

Young girl carrying her clothes on a stick angrily walking down the block. Same girl later holds stepparents lovingly. Text reads: She ran away over and over again, and struggled to stay in school until she found loving stepparents.

Little girl stands proudly in front of the nursery of a hospital. Text reads: Being an orphan led her to develop the idea that if you don't want to have a baby, you shouldn't have to. At age 5, she got her tonsils out, & decided she wanted to be a doctor.

Woman scrubbing floors on all fours and the same woman studying in a spotlight. Text reads: She worked as a maid to support herself, until she won a scholarship to Bennett College in North Carolina. She hit the books, and won admission to medical school.

Text reads: She was the only woman in a sea of male residents and became the first female surgeon from Meharry, a Black medical school in Tennessee. "Some of the fellows called 'Mule Brown' because I worked so hard. I never let anything bother me."

Text: Known as "Dr. D.," she operated on women who came to the hospital with injuries from abortions, which were illegal. Finally, someone asked her if she wanted to run for state office, as a representative in the Tennessee legislature. She did, and won.

This article was published in Devotion Issue #77 | Winter 2018
by Cynthia Greenlee
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