Dr. Lawrence Zollicoffer: Desegregated the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine in the 1950s

3 Posted by - November 14, 2018 - LATEST POSTS

Dr. Lawrence Zollicoffer, MD, was born in 1930 to Lewis and Lue Irma Zollicoffer.  He was the fourth African-American graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of Medicine. He founded the Garywn Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

As a young boy, Zollicoffer was extremely intelligent. He was deemed as a child genius and completed high school at the age of 13. By the age of 17, Zollicoffer graduated from NC A&T State University, and had received his Master’s degree by the age of 18. He later entered the medical program at UNC School of Medicine, after waiting nearly 10 years for the school to open its doors to educate students of color. North Carolina offered grants for African Americans to study outside the state, but did not allow them to attend medical schools in-state. Dr.  Zollicoffer desegregated the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine in the late 1950s. He was a brilliant man, finishing number two in his class, one-tenth of a point behind the top student. However, during those days it was rare to see a person sitting at the top, even if they deserved to be there.

In honor of Dr. Zollicoffer members of the UNC chapter of the Student National Medical Association established the “Zollicoffer Lectureship” in 1981.  The hope for the lecture program continues to be to increase awareness among minority health issues and introduce the student body to dynamic minority roles in the field of medicine. Every February, the UNC School of Medicine hosts “Zollicoffer”, a series of events that commemorates over fifty years of minority presence at the UNC School of Medicine, and honors Dr. Lawrence Zollicoffer.

Dr. Zollicoffer was the first black person to intern at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, DC. He left Washington and did a residency in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins; he was also the first there. He later did a double run in pediatrics and internal medicine, and received his boards in both. Unfortunately, at the young age of 45, he died of cancer of the colon.  Dr. Lawrence Zollicoffer is buried in Littleton, N.C in what is called Coffer Town.






1 Comment

  • YLA May 21, 2016 - 12:25 am Reply

    Wow, Yes I remember Dr. Zolicoffer practice in Baltimore. He was all of the children in my family’s pediatrician. He also made house calls in those days! His son became the pediatrician for the next generation of children in our family, with his practice at the time, on Rogers Ave in NW Baltimore. Thank God for Dr. Zollicoffer and his phenomenal legacy. God rest his soul 🙂

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