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Dr. Muriel Petioni
Dr. Muriel Marjorie Petioni was born on this date in 1914. She was a Black doctor, activist, and community server.
She was born in Trinidad, Port of Spain, the daughter of Rose Alling, a department store clerk, and Charles Augustin Petioni, a newspaper reporter. Her family migrated to New York City when Muriel was five years old. Her father became a prominent Harlem physician, activist, and nationalist for Caribbean independence.
Young Petioni attended public schools 68, 136, and Wadleigh H.S. After two years at New York University, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in 1934. She continued her education at Howard and graduated from Howard University School of Medicine in 1937. After a two-year internship at Harlem Hospital from 1937-1939, she embarked upon a career as a trailblazer for Black women and medicine.
For 40 years, she maintained a private practice that predominantly served poor and disadvantaged patients. Over 25 years ago, she founded the Susan Smith McKinney Steward Medical Society, a Black women’s physician’s association. Later she established the Medical Women of the National Medical Association, which is now called the Council for the Consensus of Women. Because she always understood the importance of Black professionals serving as role models, for nearly 25 years she worked with the Coalition of 100 Black Women to develop a mentoring program for young women interested in the sciences and medicine.
Dr. Petioni’s professional affiliations, honors, and achievements are numerous, and exemplify her commitment and devotion to community medicine on the highest levels. She was chair and president of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Harlem Hospital, an organization that raises funds for a number of activities and causes. She also held board memberships on the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Columbia School of Social Work, American Cancer Society (New York and Harlem Branches), Schomburg Corporation, Harlem Health Promotion Center, Greater Harlem Nursing Home, Sister to Sister (a Cancer Support Group for Women), Harlem Council of Elders, and Handmaids of Mary.
Petioni was also a member of the New York Chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. She embodied the philosophy that medicine should be a form of community service. Throughout her career, she demonstrated an extraordinary and indefatigable commitment to women’s issues, community medicine, social justice, and health care for the under-served.
Dr. Muriel Marjorie Petioni died on December 6, 2011.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York