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Lynette Hammond McNeal Endured Segregation and Racism to Advance her Career as an Adolescent Psychiatrist

Published on December 14, 2020

Lynnette Hammond McNeal MD, PCP 1957Serving in the United States Army in 1949 as a black woman was a fraught position to say the least. But before Lynnette Hammond McNeal became a chemist, physician, and leading adolescent psychiatrist, she did just that.

McNeal served in one of the final remaining segregated units, and was stationed in Japan as a lab technician during the Korean War. Upon being honorably discharged in 1953, she received recognition from both the Army and the United Nations. Though the Army was officially desegregated at that point, McNeal returned to a 1950s United States still characterized by racism and discrimination.

McNeal persevered, studying chemistry at PCP and receiving honors and awards in the discipline.  In 1960, she married George McNeal, Jr., also a physician, and proceeded to earn her medical degree from Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania the following year. Specializing and adolescent psychiatry, she interned at Germantown Hospital, and then took a post at Norristown State Hospital, which was in the midst of modernizing psychiatric treatment, adding special units devoted to adolescents, addiction treatment, and social rehabilitation. McNeal led the hospital’s adolescent unit for many years. Later in her career, she worked in clinical drug testing at Merck and practiced part-time at Haverford State Hospital.

Along with her husband, McNeal raised four children while practicing psychiatry, and spoke German, French, Italian and Spanish. Active until the end of her life in 2019, she had a love of music, travel, and lifelong learning.

Categories: Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Alumni, Proven Everywhere, History, Bicentennial, Chemistry