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Race and the AMA: A Chronology

Special thanks to the AMA Ethics Standards Group for compiling this information.  Citations provided by the AMA Archives.

1870
Howard University delegation is excluded from the national American Medical Association (AMA) meeting. Officially, "the consideration of race was based on the fact that the delegates are members of the National Medical Society of the District of Columbia , which did not meet certain requirements of the AMA, such as accepting only licensed physicians as members. [Transactions of the American Medical Association. Philadelphia : Collins Printers, 1870. Volume 21, p. 65-66.]

1939
The House of Delegates (HOD) does not adopt a resolution asserting the AMA's "belief that membership in the various component county societies …should not be denied to any person solely on the basis of race, color, or creed" citing local societies' autonomy. HOD adopts a report of the Board of Trustees which acknowledges black membership in the AMA and "emphatically deprecates discrimination" while recognizing county societies' "right of self-governance in local matters, including membership." [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Session, 1939: 74, 80-82, 86-87, 90.]

1950
The House of Delegates passes a resolution recognizing member societies' autonomy in membership matters, while urging that those societies with "restrictive membership provisions based on race study this question…with a view to taking such steps as they may elect to eliminate such restrictive provisions." [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Session, 1950: 41, 55-56.]

1954
In response to a 1952 petition by the Old North State Medical Society (a then 53 year old state organization for black physicians) to be admitted as a "constituent organization" of the AMA, the Board decides that the Society cannot occupy such as position because there is no provision in the AMA constitution for such an "affiliated constituent." [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Session, 1954: 43, 54.]

1961
The Board of Trustees requests that the House of Delegates take "official note of the progress that has been made toward eliminating race restrictions on constituent society membership and commends those societies which have moved forward in this area of human relations by taking positive actions to remove limitation on membership based on race of color." [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Clinical Session, 1961: 115.]

1963
AMA forms a Liaison Committee with the National Medical Association (NMA). ["Board of Trustees Report L." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Session, 1964: 38-40.]

1964
Resolution passes which reiterates that the AMA is "unalterably opposed to the denial of membership in county societies" based on race. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Session, 1964: 121-23.]

1968
Reaffirmation of the cooperation between the AMA and the NMA as well as a restatement of the AMA policy to "continue to use all of its influence to end discriminatory racial exclusion policies or practices by any medical society." Additionally, this is the first mention of methods of increasing black people in medicine. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Session, 1968: 96-99.]

1973
First resolution suggesting merging the AMA and NMA presented to the House of Delegates. This resolution is not passed; instead the already established liaison between the two was to be "expanded in all areas of mutual interest and concern." [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Convention, 1973: 343, 464-465.]

1975
The House of Delegates passes a resolution to continue support for recruitment of minority applicants and urge an expansion of affirmative action policies. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Convention, 1975: 415, 460.]

1978
AMA issues a report stating its goal to raise the number of black people entering medical school to 10 percent of the total. The report also encourages the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of minority students. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Convention, 1978: 213-214, 373.]

1983
The AMA invites the NMA to send an official observer to meetings of the House of Delegates as "…the Board is seeking new opportunities to cooperate on issues of mutual concern." [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Convention, 1983: 33-34.]

1989
The AMA resolves to actively recruit minority physicians into AMA membership and encourage participation in leadership roles. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1989: 384.]

One of the first reports of racial disparities in health care to outline outcomes of particular diseases in presented to the House of Delegates. The report proposes three solution to racial health care disparities: 1. Greater access to healthcare 2. Greater awareness in regards to racial disparities 3. Address any "inappropriate considerations" that might enter the healthcare decision-making process. ["Council on Ethical and Judicial Affair Report C." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Interim Meeting, 1989: 161-165.]

1990
The AMA adopts a report summarizing the AMA's initiatives to address the following interrelated issues: 1. Health status of minorities 2. Number of minority students and faculty in medical schools, and 3. membership and representation of minority physicians and medical students in the AMA. ["Council on Long Range Planning and Development Report C." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Interim Meeting, 1990: 207-211.]

AMA adopts an "Exclusion from Exclusionary Institutions" policy that AMA will not hold meetings, pay member, officer or employee dues to any club, restaurant, or other institution that has exclusionary policies based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Interim Meeting, 1990: 365.]

1992
The AMA establishes an Advisory Committee on Minority Physicians [name later changes to Minority Affairs Consortium (MAC)]. The four areas of interest for the committee are 1. Eliminating minority health disparities 2. Educating physicians in delivery of culturally effective health care 3. Increasing the number of minorities in health care and 4. Increasing membership and participation of minority physicians in organized medicine. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1992: 401.]

AMA House of Delegates adopts policy to annually collect and distribute a demographic analysis of the House of Delegates, councils and Board of Trustees.  ["Council on Long Range Planning and Development Report A." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1992: 217-222.]

1993
The Advisory Committee on Minority Physicians creates three subcommittees to work on three main areas of concern: minority health care, minority physician and student manpower, and minority representation in the AMA. The Committee also explores collaboration with the NMA, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. ["Board of Trustees Report EE." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1993: 118-120.]

1994
The House of Delegates passes a resolution encouraging and supporting clinical research which reflects the diversity of the American population, including women and minorities. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1994: 426.]

The AMA HOD adopts an Advisory Committee on Minority Physicians report that lists several priority concerns, including collaborating with the Association of American Indian Physicians to improve the health of Native Americans , expanding liaison with minority physician organizations, reviewing and analyzing minority issues policy, research and data, and increasing cultural sensitivity in the medical community. ["Board of Trustees Report 31." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1994: 118-120.]

1995
Demographic survey of AMA House of Delegates reveals membership is 96 percent. While, 1 percent Black, 1 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian ["Council on Long Range Planning and Development Report 3." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Interim Meeting, 1995: 254-257.]

1996
The AMA bylaws are altered to allow the NMA to select one delegate and one alternate delegate for the House of Delegates. ["Board of Trustees Report 2." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1996: 62-63.]

Demographic Survey results: House of Delegates,   95.5 percent White, 0.8 percent Black, 1.6 percent Hispanic, 2.1 percent Asian.

All Physicians: 50.6 percent White, 1.8 percent Black, 3.0 percent Hispanic, 6.6 percent Asian, 1.6 percent Other and 36.0 percent Unidentified. ["Council on Long Range Planning and Development Report 5." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Interim Meeting, 1996: 187-188.]

The House of Delegates passes a resolution supporting the State of Texas in appeals of the Hopwood decision. The 5th U.S. Court of Appeals, in the historic 1996 Hopwood v. the State of Texas decision, suspended the University of Texas's affirmative action admissions program. The Hopwood decision was later invalidated due to the Supreme Court's Grutter v. Bollinger decision (2003), which upheld the University of Michigan Law School's consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1996: 416.]

1997
The AMA HOD passes a resolution to work with organizations such as the AAMC and the NMA and develop new initiatives to encourage and prepare minorities to enter medical school. [American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1997: 541.]

1998
The House of Delegates passes a resolution supporting appeals of the Hopwood decision. [American Medical Association.  House of Delegates Proceedings.   Annual Meeting, 1998:  586.]

1999
The Board of Trustees restates the AMA's support of affirmative action and the need to increase the number of minority physicians. ["Board of Trustees Report 15." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 1999: 79-86.]

2000
Demographic survey results: House of Delegates: 88 percent male, 84 percent White, 2 percent Black, 1 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian, 0 percent Native American, 11 percent Unknown

All physicians and medical students: 75 percent male, 51 percent White, 2 percent Black, 3 percent Hispanic, 7.9 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Native American, 33 percent Unknown. ["Council on Long Range Planning and Development Report 7." American Medical Association. House of Delegates Proceedings. Annual Meeting, 2000: 262-270.]

2001
The House of Delegates adopted a policy of recommending health data being collected by race and ethnicity while assuring its confidentiality as part of the medical record.  [“Board of Trustees Report 19.”  American Medical Association.  House of Delegates Proceedings.  Interim Meeting, 2001:  104-09.]

2004
The Commission on Health Care Disparities (a group co-chaired by the AMA and the NMA with 35 member organizations) convenes and commits to focus on 4 strategies:  Increasing awareness of disparities, promoting better data gathering, promoting workforce diversity, and increasing education and training.

2005
AMA releases "Working Together to End Racial and Ethnic Disparities: One Physician at a Time", a kit which includes tools to help physicians eliminate gaps in health care based on race and culture.

2008
A group convened by the AMA’s Institute for Ethics publishes "African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846-1968." Appearing in the July 16 edition of JAMA, the piece investigates the Association’s relationship to and positions on race. Following publication of the article, AMA issues an apology for its historical role in discrimination against African-Americans in organized medicine. [“African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846-1968.” Robert B. Baker, PhD, Ololade Olakanmi, Harriet A. Washington, et al.  Journal of American Medical Association.  2008, 300 (3):  306-313.]

2009
The first edition of the Ending Disparities e-Letter appears in September. The newsletter reports on the activities of the Commission to End Health Care Disparities, and also raises awareness about inequities in patient care, and promoting diversity among the physician population.

2010
The Minority Affairs Consortium becomes the AMA's newest section this year and creates stronger partnerships with national ethnic medical associations such as the National Medical Association.  Such programs as the Doctors Back to School and Minority Scholars programs grow throughout the year.  [“Enhancing the Voice of the Minority Affairs Consortium.” American Medical Association.  House of Delegate Proceedings.  Annual Meeting, 2008:  482. And “Establishment and Function of Sections.” American Medical Association.  House of Delegate Proceedings.  Interim Meeting, 2010:  107-114.]