by Mariel Watkins
Dr. Alexander Turner is credited as the first African American general surgeon in Detroit. Dr. Alexander Turner attended medical school at the University of Michigan, and as a medical student, founded a chain of drugstores. Known for being one of the most prominent black doctors in Detroit, Dr. Turner co-founded Dunbar Memorial Hospital in 1918, which catered to Detroit’s black community. In addition, Dr. Turner held appointments at two white hospitals that barred most black doctors and operated two private offices. Seventy-five percent of Dr. Turner’s clientele was white. Despite Dr. Turner’s status among whites and blacks in the city of Detroit, whites were far from pleased when he moved his family into a house on Spokane Avenue, an all white neighborhood on Detroit’s west side. After being attacked by a white mob only 5 hours after he moved in, two men forced Turner to sign over his deed with a gun to his head, and with the help of the police, escorted him and his family out of the house. Turner was not the only doctor in Detroit that moved into an all white neighborhood and was subjected to such treatment. Dr. Turner was known for his skill in treating diseases peculiar to women and children. Currently, S.A.Y Detroit and WIN Network are two Detroit-based public health organizations that cater to the health of women and children.