[Dr. William Augustus Hinton. Photo via images.harvard.edu]
Harvard Medical School has approved renaming the Oliver Wendell Holmes Academic Society in honor of the late Dr. William Augustus Hinton, a former HMS clinical professor of bacteriology and immunology and 1912 HMS graduate.
The recommendation from a Faculty Council Subcommittee on Artwork and Cultural Representations task force is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that HMS buildings, symbols, academic societies and public spaces fully reflect the institution’s mission and values.
To quote from The Harvard Crimson:
Holmes was one of the first American intellectuals to promote the racist doctrine of eugenics. In 1850, he revoked the acceptances of the Medical School’s first three Black students, writing that the “intermixing of the white and black races in their lecture rooms is distasteful to a large portion of the class and injurious to the interests of the school.”
Hinton — a 1905 graduate of the College and later HMS — specialized in the fields of bacteriology and immunology. He created a new diagnostic blood test for syphilis, one the U.S. Public Health Service later adopted.
Earlier this year, two medical students launched a petition to rename the former Holmes Society due to Holmes’s support of eugenics and racism towards Black and Indigenous people. The petition garnered over 1000 signatures from HMS and HSDM faculty, administrators, students, and alumni.
“Although task force members considered several worthy candidates, Dr. Hinton emerged as the unanimous choice. He is an eminent former faculty member and alumnus, a pioneering scientist and physician, and an individual abundantly deserving of this recognition,” said Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley. “The School is delighted to honor him.”
“As we at HMS work to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion, and contribute to a more just and equitable world, it is vitally important that our campus environment reflect our values, inspire our community, and demonstrate that all we aspire to can be attained,” Daley added.
A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, Hinton was an HMS faculty member and the first Black full professor at Harvard University.
To read more: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/winds-change/
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