Why It Matters
Matilda Evans was an African-American woman physician who attained an uncommon degree of professional and civic success. She established hospitals and a nursing school that both treated and trained African Americans, founded the Negro Health Journal and was elected president of the National Medical Association, an association for black physicians to parallel the white-only American Medical Association (AMA). By 1907 she was secure and confident enough to wield her success on behalf of her protégé, Melissa Thompson, also African American, by recommending her for a scholarship to her alma mater, the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP). In calling on WMCP to aid Thompson in her quest for a medical education, Evans advocates for Thompson, for herself, and perhaps most notably, for the African American community, claiming that “I need her...the poor people of her race need her.” In this way Evans elevated a personal recommendation to a call for social justice; a scholarship for Thompson would not only benefit Thompson, but also the larger African-American community.