Commentary
12:14 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

The Medical Missionary of Eastern North Carolina

Dr. James Jones is a Lumbee Indian. In the mid 1950's, he was the first American Indian to graduate from Wake Forest University and from Bowman Gray School of Medicine.
Credit Kathryn Mobley / WFDD

He was born in the 1930's to a very poor Lumbee Indian family in eastern North Carolina. His parents deserted him. And few expected much of him. So James Jones became a doctor, a medical missionary and a social activist.

In the late 1950's, Dr. James Jones graduated from Wake Forest College (now Wake Forest University) and Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest University School of Medicine). He was the first American Indian to integrate these schools In addition to specializing in family medicine, he's dedicated his life to numerous efforts of training and recruiting similar physicians to care for poor residents in eastern North Carolina. Dr. Jones is also the founding chair of the department of family medicine at East Carolina University. 

50 years ago, Wake Forest University integrated its student body. This year, it’s commemorating this historic decision with the series, Faces of Courage  honoring those who have and continue to enrich Wake Forest’s diverse and inclusive community.

In this segment of WFDD’s Real People, Real Stories, Dr. Jones describes how he refused to abandon his dream while applying to medical school in 1955. And in the process, he unknowingly broke through a color barrier at Bowman Gray School of Medicine. 

Dr. James Jones' belief in himself enabled him to overcome numerous obstacles and prove many wrong.