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Tue, 07.08.1941

Hamilton Holmes, Physician born

Hamilton Holmes

*Hamilton Holmes was born on this date in 1941.  He was a Black orthopedic physician.  

Hamilton E. Holmes was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His father, Alfred, was a businessman, and his mother, Isabella, was a teacher. His grandfather, Hamilton Mayo Holmes, was a physician and was one of Hamilton's influences. His grandfather and uncle, Alfred Holmes, helped to desegregate golf courses in Atlanta in 1955. In high school, Holmes attended Henry McNeal Turner High School, considered one of the most prestigious high schools for Blacks in Atlanta. He graduated in 1959 as valedictorian. He was also a member of his high school's football and basketball teams. 

After graduating from high school, Holmes, and fellow Henry McNeal Turner High School graduate Charlayne Hunter, applied to the University of Georgia in the fall of 1959; however, both were denied. After this, Holmes enrolled at Morehouse College, while he and Hunter continued to apply to the University of Georgia every quarter. Meanwhile, Holmes sought membership and was initiated into the Alpha Rho chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. In January 1961, both Holmes and Hunter were admitted to UGA.  During his time at UGA, Holmes would generally keep to himself. He lived off campus, and on the weekends, he would return home to Atlanta, where he continued his membership with the fraternity until 1963. Holmes was a member of Phi Beta Kappa fraternity and Phi Kappa Phi Honors fraternity.  

After graduating from the University of Georgia, Holmes became the first Black student accepted to the Emory University School of Medicine. He graduated in 1967 and began his residency at Detroit General Hospital. He left in 1969 to serve as an army ranger in Germany before returning to Emory to complete his residency. He eventually opened up a private practice in Atlanta, later becoming a professor and associate dean at Emory and the medical director and head orthopedic surgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital.   For years after graduating, Holmes stayed away from the University of Georgia, stating that his "time as a student there was very bad."  In the early 1980s, Holmes agreed to help plan the university's bicentennial celebration and became the first Black to be on the Board of Trustees.   

He was married to Marilyn Vincent Holmes. They had two children; a son, Hamilton Jr., a University of Georgia alumni, and a daughter, Alison. He was a trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation.   Other landmarks named in his honor include the Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School in East Point, Georgia; Hamilton E. Holmes Drive (Highway 280) in Fulton County, Georgia; and the H.E. Holmes MARTA station in Atlanta. The first endowed professorship at the University of Georgia named for an African American was created in his name in November 1999. The University of Georgia Academic Building is also named for him, along with Charlayne Hunter-Gault, as it is called the Holmes/Hunter Academic Building as of 2001. Also, in 2012, Emory University dedicated a new hall in his honor, Hamilton Holmes Hall.  Hamilton Holmes died on October 26, 1995, of heart failure in Atlanta, Georgia.  

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