Dr Justina Ford

Black History Month: Dr. Justina Ford, Colorado’s First Black Female Physician

Goodwill of Colorado’s celebration of Black History Month continues with the story of Dr. Justina Ford, Colorado’s first Black female physician.

Justina Warren was born in 1871 in Knoxville, Illinois, to former slaves. Justina’s love of science and medicine Dr. Justina Ford started at a young age. She would catch and dissect frogs and often accompanied her mother, who was a nurse, on house calls. Despite her modest circumstances, Justina dreamt of becoming a doctor.

In 1890, Justina entered Hering Medical College in Chicago to pursue a medical degree. While there, she met Reverend John Ford and the couple married in 1892. Justina completed her studies in 1899 and Dr. and Reverend Ford moved to Denver after a brief stay in Alabama.

Dr. Ford became Colorado’s first Black female doctor in October 1902. Unfortunately, no hospitals would allow her to practice, nor would any medical associations accept her due to being a person of color. So, she and Reverend Ford purchased a home in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood and Justina opened an obstetrics, gynecology and pediatric practice.

For the next five decades, Dr. Ford served the Denver community, treating patients of all races and backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay her.

Dr. Justina Ford During her career, it is estimated that Dr. Ford delivered more than 7,000 babies. Shortly before her death in 1952, the Denver and Colorado Medical Societies granted her membership.

Today, Dr. Ford’s former residence is home to Denver’s Black American West & Heritage Center.

This month, we celebrate the culture, contributions and courage of Black Americans like Dr. Ford.


Images reproduced from Colorado Virtual Library

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