What is Meharry Medical College?
Meharry Medical College was founded in 1876 to educate African American physicians, scientists, and dentists….
The Meharry motto is “Worship of God through service to mankind.”
There is a 132 year period of Meharry Medical College’s history, beginning prior to its formal organization in 1876 with a singular act of grace bestowed by the young farmer, Samuel Meharry, upon a family of freed slaves who assisted him when his salt wagon became disabled as he traveled though Kentucky.
The story goes like this…..
In the 1820’s, 16-year-old Samuel Meharry was hauling a load of salt through the Kentucky wilderness when his wagon slid off the road into a muddy ditch. With rain and nightfall limiting his options, Samuel searched for help. Peering through the darkness, he saw a modest cabin that was home to a black family recently freed from slavery. Ignoring risks involved in responding to a stranger’s knock on the door, the family – still vulnerable to slave hunters paid to return freedmen to bondage – gave Samuel Meharry food and shelter for the night.
At morning’s light, they helped the young visitor raise his wagon from the mud, and Samuel continued on his way. The black family’s act of kindness touched young Meharry so deeply that he vowed to repay it. “I have no money now,” he said as he departed “but when I am able, I shall do something for your race.”Tragically, history never recorded the name of the courageous black family, and perhaps their identity even receded in the mind of Samuel Meharry as he grew prosperous in the years that followed.
Even so, 40 years later, as the Civil War ended and black citizens began their long struggle for rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Meharry seized an opportunity to redeem his vow. When leading Methodist clergymen and laymen organized the Freedmen's Aid Society in August 1866, to "elevate former slaves, intellectually and morally," Samuel acted. He and his four brothers - Alexander, David, Hugh, and Jesse - pledged their support to Central Tennessee College's emerging medical education program. With $30,000 in cash and real property, the Meharry brothers repaid the black family's Act of Kindness with one of their own: In 1876, they funded the College's Medical Department, which evolved over time into what we now know as Meharry Medical College.
Today, the contemporary Salt Wagon image symbolizes those several acts of kindness and philanthropy and countless others performed by the College's loyal supporters.
The mission of Meharry Medical College exists to improve the health and health care of minority and underserved communities by offering excellent education and training programs in the health sciences, placing special emphasis on providing opportunities to people of color and individuals from disadvantage backgrounds, regardless of race or ethnicity; delivering high-quality health services; and conducting research that fosters the elimination of health disparities.
Year after year Meharry Medical College produces the most African American MDs, Dentists, and PhD's in the country!
Have you ever heard the story of Meharry's history? Do you know anyone that attends or attended Meharry? Does it make you proud that such an institution exists?