Dr. José Celso Barbosa: First Puerto Rican, Afro-Latino To Earn Medical Degree In U.S.
"Superiority is not proved by color, but by the brain, by education, by willpower, by moral courage."
Barbosa was not only the first Puerto Rican and one of the first people of African descent to earn a medical degree in the U.S., he was valedictorian of his class, served on PR's first Senate, and founded it's first bilingual newspaper.
Dr. José Celso Barbosa Alcala was born to a humble family in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. He was dedicated to his studies and tutored students to pay for college in the states. In 1980, he graduated valedictorian from the University of Michigan, the first puertorriqueño to earn a medical degree in the U.S.
@Sawbones @sydneemcelroy ever heard of Jose Celso Barbosa? The first Puerto Rican, and one of the first persons of African descent to earn a medical degree in the United States. Also an early advocate for health insurance/generally cool dude ???? #BlackHistoryMonth episode?? pic.twitter.com/tgEHFwcbAj— Ivelisse Housman (@IveHousman) February 9, 2019
He returned to Puerto Rico to open his own practice and provided medical care all over the country, where he pioneered an early form of health insurance. He went on to be named to Puerto Rico's first executive cabinet, serve on it's first Senate, and established its first bilingual newspaper, El Tiempo.
Barbosa was proud of his heritage as an Afro-Latino, and his words apply to us all:
"I am proud of being a Negro. Nor have I ever tried to beg tolerance from anyone. Superiority is not proved by color, but by the brain, by education, by willpower, by moral courage."