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Sat, 09.26.1914

Ethelene Jones Crockett, Public Health Advocate born

Ethelene Jones Crocket

*Ethelene Jones Crockett was born on this date in 1914.   She was a Black physician and public health activist.  

Ethelene Jones was born in St. Joseph, MI.  She attended Jackson High School and Jackson Junior College (now Jackson College), where she graduated in 1934. She attended the University of Michigan, where she met and married George Crockett Jr.

In 1942, Crockett began medical school at Howard University, when she was 28 years old, married and mother to three children. No hospital in Detroit would accept her in a residency program because she was a Black woman. Crockett completed her obstetrics/gynecology residency at Sydenham Hospital in New York where she joined her husband, George Crockett.  In 1960, Crockett spent a month touring Europe and the Soviet Union with 16 other Black doctors, on a study trip sponsored by the National Medical Association (NMA). The trip was led by Dr. Edward C. Mazique, the president of the NMA, with the purpose of assessing medical advances in other countries and exchanging best practices; it was also considered a goodwill mission to the Soviet Union.  

Crockett directed the Detroit Maternal Infant Care Project from 1967-1970. She also helped design the Detroit Model Neighborhood Comprehensive Health Center. In the 1970s, Crockett was a gynecologist at Grace and Harper Hospital in Detroit.  In 1971, the Detroit Free Press named Crockett one of nine “Detroit’s Most Successful Women.”  Crockett was active in a wide variety of organizations that dealt with health and social issues. She was an advocate for public daycare centers for working women as well as family planning, and she often lectured on these and other topics. In 1972 she led the fight to liberalize Michigan's abortion laws.  In 1972, Crockett received the “Woman of the Year” award from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Beta Omicron Zeta Chapter, Detroit, MI.  In 1978, the Detroit Medical Society named Crockett “Physician of the Year.”  Crockett was the keynote speaker at the Jackson College commencement 1972 ceremony.  

In 1977, shortly before her death, she was named president of the American Lung Association. She was the first woman to attain this position in the organization, which was by then more than seven decades old. Crockett met with President Jimmy Carter at the White House on behalf of the American Lung Association in November 1978. She spoke about the need for funding to combat tuberculosis.   

After her death on December 28, 1978, the college established a yearly award in her honor, the Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award, which goes to alumni who display “positive personal involvement for the betterment of mankind with his/her community, state, nation or world.” She was Michigan's first Black female board-certified OB/GYN and the first woman to be president of the American Lung Association. In 1988, Crockett was inducted posthumously into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. Crockett continues to be remembered as an influential figure in post-war Detroit and was recently featured in Herb Boyd's “Black Detroit,” a people's history of self-determination.

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