Diversity timeline

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Updated July 22, 2020

Evolution of a profession

JAVMA takes a look at a few of the milestones in diversity—both in veterinary medicine and in society as a whole—over the years.

Sources: AAVMC; American Veterinary Medical History Society; and Diane Fagen, AVMA librarian

1895 - 1910

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1895-1910
1889: Dr. Henry Stockton Lewis is the first African American to graduate from a U.S. veterinary college—the Harvard School of Veterinary Medicine—according to the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education.
1897: Dr. Marie Kapczewitsch, a resident of France, is the first woman to receive a degree in veterinary medicine.
1903: Dr. Mignon Nicholson graduates from McKillip Veterinary College in Chicago, becoming the first woman to do so from a U.S. veterinary college.
1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded by a group of African-American leaders.
1910: Dr. Elinor McGrath earns a DVM degree from Chicago Veterinary College, the second U.S. woman to become a veterinarian and the first female AVMA member.

1911 - 1920

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1911-1920
1915: The first American mosque is founded by Albanian Muslims.
1917: The Jones Act grants U.S. citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico.
1920: The 19th Amendment to the  U.S. Constitution gives women the right to vote.
1920: The Islamic charity Red Crescent is established.

1921 - 1930

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1921-1930
1924: In response to concerns about rising immigration, the Immigration Act establishes strict quotas based on national origin, effectively ending Asian immigration until passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.
1929: Several Latino service organizations merge to form the League of United Latin American Citizens, which works to end discrimination and segregation.

1931 - 1940

1941 - 1950

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1941-1950
1942: The Bracero Program is created, allowing the U.S. to import temporary contract laborers from Mexico until 1962.
1942: In the wake of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signs an order interning Japanese-Americans.
1943: The W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, originally named the Wissahickon Farm School, is founded in Philadelphia.
1943: Congress repeals Chinese exclusion laws, sets immigration quotas, and extends citizenship rights to Chinese living in the United States.
1945: The Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine is founded.
1947: A group of female veterinarians form the Women’s Veterinary Association, later to be the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association.
1949: Tuskegee is awarded probationary accreditation by the AVMA Council on Education. The first graduating class includes the first black female veterinarian in the U.S., Alfreda Johnson Webb.
1949: Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb becomes the first female African American veterinarian to practice after graduating from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University).

1951 - 1960

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1951-1960
1951: The U.S. Army high command announces it will desegregate the Army.
1954: The U.S. Supreme Court bans segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education.
1954: Tuskegee is awarded full accreditation.
1954: Operation Wetback begins. U.S. Immigration Service arrests and deports approximately 80,000 Latin Americans. Many U.S. citizens are deported unfairly.
1955: Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat and her subsequent arrest lead to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

1961 - 1970

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1961-1970
1963: The Equal Pay Act prohibits paying women less than men for the same job.
1963: Cesar Chavez co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later becomes the United Farm Workers of America.
1963: Betty Friedan publishes “The Feminine Mystique,” which galvanizes the contemporary women’s rights movement.
1963: The March on Washington, D.C., draws 250,000 in support for pending civil rights legislation. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his “I Have a Dream” speech.
1964: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act.
1965: Cassius Clay Jr., three-time world boxing champ, takes the name Muhammad Ali.
1965: Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act.
1965: Veterinary student Evan Morse participates in the Selma to Montgomery March.
1968: MLK is assassinated.
1968: The Stonewall Riots spark a massive grassroots gay liberation movement.

1971 - 1980

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1971-1980
1971: The AVMA House of Delegates approves a measure that allows the formation of the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates.
1972: Title IX of the Education Amendments bans sex discrimination by schools that receive federal funding.
1972: The AAVMC hosts the first Iverson Bell Symposium on diversity at Purdue University.
1973: The number of minority students in veterinary medicine totals 143, or 2.2 percent of all U.S. veterinary students.
1973: The American Psychiatric Association declassifies homosexuality as a mental disorder.
1973: The ECFVG begins testing and certifying veterinarians for professional competence.
Mid-’70s: The AAVMC establishes its Minority Affairs Committee, which later becomes the Multicultural Affairs Committee.
1977: Dr. Bobbye A. Chancellor becomes first female AVMA vice president.
1977: The Women’s Veterinary Medical Association considers disbanding, in view of women’s progress in the profession, but reorganizes as the Association for Women Veterinarians.
1978: In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court declares affirmative action constitutional but invalidates the use of racial quotas.
1978: The Association of Gay Veterinarians meets for the first time at the AVMA Annual Convention.
1978: The Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations is founded.

1981 - 1990

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1981-1990
1981: AIDS is first reported when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five homosexual men.
1982: The Islamic Society of North America is established.
1985: The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences opens.
1986: Female students make up more than 50 percent of enrollment at U.S. veterinary colleges for the first time.
1986: Congress approves the Immigration Reform and Control Act, providing leaglization for certain undocumented workers, including agricultural workers.

1991 - 2000

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 1991-2000
1991: The International Membership of Gay and Lesbian Animal Doctors (I’M GLAD) is founded.
1993: The “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the U.S. military becomes law.
1993: The University of Wisconsin-Madison hosts a conference dedicated to diversity in conjunction with the Iverson Bell Symposium.
1993: I’M GLAD is renamed as the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association
1994: The Council on American-Islamic Relations is established.
1996: Dr. Mary Beth Leininger becomes the first female AVMA president.
1999: The Muslim VMA is established by a group of Chicago veterinarians.
2000: Of the 281.4 million residents counted in the U.S. census, 35.3 million, or 12.5 percent, are Latino.

2001 - 2010

Feb. 15, 2010 JAVMA Diversity Timeline: 2001-2010
2001: Veterinary students at Cornell University form Veterinary Students for the Promotion of Socio-cultural Awareness, which is later renamed Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity.
2004: The AAVMC creates the position of association executive director of diversity.
2004: The AVMA Executive Board approves a statement on diversity.
2005: The first Veterinary Diversity Symposium is held at the AVMA Annual Convention.
2005: The AVMA Task Force on Diversity is established.
2005: The Association for Women Veterinarians becomes a foundation.
2005: The AAVMC establishes its DiVersity Matters initiative.
2006: The AVMA Task Force on Diversity submits its final report and recommendations.
2007: Cornell University’s VOICE transitions into a national organization.
2007: Female veterinarians outnumber male veterinarians in the United States for the first time.
2009: The number of underrepresented students in veterinary medicine totals 1,287, or 12.2 percent of all U.S. veterinary students.
2009: An AVMA/AAVMC diversity staff working group is appointed to revisit the Task Force on Diversity’s report and recommendations.

Correction: A previous version of this timeline misidentified the first African American veterinarian.