[In a public dispute with the the leadership of the National Medical Association (N.M.A.), Dr. William C. Henderson wrote a long letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper with readership across the nation's black communities. Dr. Henderson aimed his remarks at the President of the N.M.A., Dr. Lawrence Payne, who previously had rebuked Dr. Henderson for what were perceived as unkind and unwarranted attacks on the N.M.A. The N.M.A. was the black physician counterpart of the American Medical Association (A.M.A.) in the segregated world of U.S. medical practice in 1931. Here is a short excerpt from Dr. Henderson's letter to the editor.]
… [To] merit the respect of Afro-America, you [Dr. Payne] and your dear old N.M.A. should oppose the A.M.A. in unremitting language for the manner in which it has proscribed us. If the task is too monumental for you, retire from the scene for you have no other raison d'être. A labor union can present our demands better in this instance. Your task should be to make the following specific demands:
1. Demand that they refrain from limiting two Negro students to the class in the so-called white medial schools. The viscousness of this is apparent to anyone with ordinary intelligence.
2. Demand that they remove the ban on Negro medical students in the O.B. and G.Y.N. services of these schools. Our Nordic medics exhibit the same sexual jealousy as other white men in this matter.
3. Demand that they permit Negoes to serve as internes, house physicians, nurses and technicians in all hospitals under their jurisdiction, in juxtaposition with whites.
4. Demand that all licensed and qualified Negro physicians have the right to practice in al hospitals in the same jurisdiction irrespective of membership or non-membership in any medical society.
5. Demand that these physicians be permitted to treat patients of any complexion in these same hospitals. Right now all sections of the populace have a free choice of their physicians. Just see that this is made effective in all hospitals, particularly those that are supported by public taxes. Hospital practice is increasing over private office practice, remember that please.
6. Demand that they refrain from allowing Negro patients to be segregated in these hospitals by confining them to certain beds, wings, buildings, wards and basements.
In short Dr. Payne, demand for the sepia medico and laymen all the perquisites and privileges that the Nordics demands for themselves in the matter of medical care. It is an insult to a Negro medic's intelligence that he should have to swallow conditions that his brother of color in foreign lands does't have to be annoyed with. When your organization inaugurates a stern militant fight along the above lines, I shall be happy to remove the charge that [the N.M.A.] lacks social vision.…
Yours very truly,
William C. Henderson, M.D., Colorado Springs, Colo.