Celebrating Black History 365
Born Minnie Lee Jones in Schaal, Arkansas, the eldest of eight children, she was raised in a three-room cabin without plumbing or electricity and never saw a doctor until she was grown. She proudly will detail to anyone her parents’ struggle to buy and keep their own farm, and her mother’s insistence that she become somebody important. After graduating from high school at age 15 as valedictorian, she won a full scholarship to Philander Smith College in Arkansas, served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant, and received her medical degree from the University of Arkansas Medical School on the GI Bill.
She joined its faculty as a pediatric endocrinologist in 1967. Along the way she changed her name to Joycelyn, married a high school basketball coach, Oliver Elders, and had two sons. In 1987, Governor Bill Clinton made her Director of Arkansas Department of Public Health and later, as U. S. President, he appointed her U.S. Surgeon General. The end came in December 1994. Elders’ positions on several passionate subjects added more controversy to an administration already heavily overburdened with controversy on abortion, sex, and drugs and her resignation was reluctantly requested and submitted.
Resource: The Pride of African American History (DCW Publishing Company)