Title: Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019.
Interviewer: Thomas, Karen Kruse
Interviewee: Slade, James
Abstract: James Slade was the second African American to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He started there in 1952, embracing the challenges and limitations of attending UNC-Chapel Hill, including one racist professor. Slade eventually decided to become a pediatrician: the specialty attracted warm-hearted doctors less prone to prejudice. He began private practice in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1965, where for many years he was the only black physician. In this interview, he recalls the gradual integration of medical practice in Edenton and describes his experiences as one of very few African American medical professionals in his area. Slade, who is joined by his wife, Catherine, focuses on the challenges of medical care at the intersection of race, poverty, and rural isolation. Poor patients, black and white, had a unique set of needs that Slade worked to serve despite limited access to medical technology and peers with whom to collaborate. As he did so, he earned the loyalty of a black community that in addition to its unique medical needs—such as treatment for diabetes and hypertension—made unique demands of its doctor. Toward the end of this interview, Slade also describes some of the changes that have affected the business of medicine in the past few decades and his concerns about the health of the black community.