We at CFS want to honor Black History Month this year by not only paying tribute to all generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity, but also by honoring some specific Trailblazers of Equality in The Area of Mental Health. Throughout this month, we will be posting tributes to some individuals who spoke to our hearts and inspired us, and whose stories we want to re-share with you.
Today’s tribute is to Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D.
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Dr. Fuller was a pioneer in neurology, psychiatry, and pathology, and made significant strides in the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fuller’s parents, once slaves in Virginia, bought their freedom and moved to a colony set up in West Africa by the American Colonization Society. There they helped establish the nation developed by African Americans and liberated African slaves. Fuller returned to the US and completed his MD degree from Boston University School of Medicine. At the time, it was one of only a few medical institutions open to students of all races and genders.
Fuller subsequently studied at the University of Munich conducting research under Alois Alzheimer. There he performed ground-breaking research on the physical changes that occur in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. His discoveries continue to guide Alzheimer’s disease research today.
For over a decade he served as faculty at Boston University School of Medicine as an associate professor, until in 1933 he left due to unfair racial disparities in the salary and promotion processes. Following WWI, the Veterans Administration opened the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center with a wholly black staff; Fuller was instrumental in recruiting and training black psychiatrists to work at this facility.
Today, the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center in Boston (part of the Boston Medical Center) is a primary teaching site for Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. The American Psychiatric Association established a Solomon Carter Fuller Award lecture at its annual meetings. The Black Psychiatrists of America created the Solomon Carter Fuller Program for young black aspiring psychiatrists to complete their residency. Fuller Middle School, located in Framingham, Massachusetts, is named for he and his wife; as is a street “Dr. Solomon Fuller Way” on the former site of one of his Massachusetts teaching hospitals.
Center for Family Services has been providing mental health services and education to children, adults and families since 1961. Our clients are some of the most vulnerable in the community due to their age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Donations are a crucial means to their mental well-being. On their behalf, thank you for your support.