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Minton Made his Mark in Pharmacy, History, and Medicine

Published on December 14, 2020

Henry McKee Minton PHG, PCP 1895An early African-American graduate of PCP, Henry McKee Minton was not only a pioneering figure in pharmacy, he also had major roles in Philadelphia history, medicine, and Greek life.

Minton’s grandfather was a prominent real estate and businessman in Philadelphia in the mid-nineteenth century, and his father a lawyer. Minton himself first studied law at the University of Pennsylvania, then went on to PCP to earn his degree in pharmacy.

After opening and operating the first African-American owned pharmacy in Philadelphia, Minton trained as a physician at Jefferson Medical College, becoming its first black graduate. He was barred, however, from interning at Jefferson’s hospital because of his race. Minton went on instead to have major roles at Frederick Douglass and Mercy Hospitals, both important black hospitals and schools of nursing which eventually merged.

In the earlier decades of the century, Minton was instrumental in the treatment and epidemiological response to tuberculosis in Philadelphia, which was affecting African-Americans at higher rates relative to whites. Working with nurses trained at Douglas and Mercy, he organized public health campaigns through Philadelphia’s black social networks.

Minton was also one of the original founders in 1904 of Sigma Pi Phi, one of the nation’s first black fraternities. Unlike other Greek letter organizations, Sigma Pi Phi accepted its members after graduation. Sigma Pi Phi was a major networking force for professional life, from which black Americans were excluded in wider society. Sigma Pi Phi counts Martin Luther King, Jr. W.E.B. Du Bois, and John Lewis,  among its members. The Boulé, as it is known, is still active today with over 5,000 members.

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