February is Black History Month; so today we have chosen to highlight and honor the United States’ first professionally trained African American dentist, Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman, DDS. Born in 1846 in Washington DC, to parents who had been slaves, Freeman worked as apprentice for a white dentist who encouraged him to apply to dental college and get his certification. After being rejected by two other schools, Freeman was accepted into Harvard Medical School at the age of 21.
Upon graduation, he set up his private practice in Washington DC, and began mentoring other African American youths interested in medical practice until his death.
Honored by the all-black National Dental Association in1913, previous called the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society in 1907, the NDA adopted Dr. Freeman’s mission to extend dental treatment and education to the poor, disabled, elderly, and those racially discriminated against.