Dr. Bernard F. Gipson Sr., BLACK SURGEON, Doctor, Denver Hospital

Legacy Of Colorado’s First Black Surgeon Honored By Historic Health Clinic

Fueled by a discovery at an African American research library, a Colorado clinic is honoring the state's first Black surgeon, Dr. Bernard F. Gipson Sr.

The life and legacy of Colorado’s first Black surgeon, Dr. Bernard F. Gipson Sr., is being honored by the Denver Health’s Eastside Family Health Center.

Born to a poor Texas family in the 1920s, Gipson grew up to become one of America’s first Black surgeons, according to Denver 7. While he worked in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, many were unaware of his rich history.

Thankfully, Gipson ensured that his legacy would be stored.

Before his death at age 93 in 2015, he donated boxes of his mementos, including photographs, and documents, to the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Its archives team soon discovered how pivotal he was to the achievement of Black doctors, especially thanks to his own audio recordings of his life story.

In the recordings, Gipson revealed how a Black doctor coming to his hometown inspired him as a young boy to pursue a career in medicine. Receiving an undergraduate education at Morehouse College. Gipson never strayed away from his dreams. However, racism prohibited him from attending medical school in Texas.

“I don’t know how I kept from being knocked down by some of these experiences. But each time, I seem to have gotten strength to do a little bit more,” he said in the recordings.

The setback led him to Howard University, where he learned under Dr. Charles Drew, known for his advancements in storing blood plasma. Drew’s specialty inspired Gipson to follow the same path. Gipson became the first Black surgeon with the highest certifications in Colorado, where his military service led him to practice at.

His portrait now hangs at the community health clinic, the second oldest in the nation, located in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood. The area, known for its development by the majority Black residents, pays tribute to prominent Black figures in the state.

Gipson’s story of overcoming racism to reach the new heights in his profession is one the library hopes to display in a future exhibit.

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