From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Alexander, Joseph L.

(born: 1930  -  died: 2002) Joseph L. Alexander was a senior at Fisk University in 1951 when it was announced that he would become the first African American admitted to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Alexander was born in Oneonta, AL and grew up in Anchorage, KY. He received a four-year scholastic scholarship to attend Fisk. The University of Louisville trustees had decided during the summer of 1950 to admit Negroes to the school's graduate and professional schools.

Joseph L. Alexander would go on to accomplish many firsts during his career. He was a military surgeon and performed the Army's first kidney transplant. He was the first Chief of Surgery at the Martin Luther King Jr. General Community Hospital and during the same period was a professor at the Charles R. Drew Post Graduate Medical School; both institutions are in Los Angeles, CA.

Alexander wrote many medical articles, including "The King-Drew Trauma Center," published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, vol. 68, no. 5 (1976), pp. 384-386. He became the first African American member of the California Club in Los Angeles in 1988 after the city passed an ordinance that banned membership discrimination by private organizations.

Joseph L. Alexander was the son of Hattie Hughes. The Joseph L. Alexander Fund was established at the University of Louisville.

For more see "A Fisk University senior, Joseph L. Alexander...," p. 257 and "Joseph L. Alexander" on p. 284 -- both in The Crisis, vol. 58, no. 4 (April 1951); and the same article can be found on pp. 204-205 of the Journal of the National Medical Association, vol. 43, no. 3 (May 1951); "Died:" "Joseph L. Alexander...," Jet, May 27, 2002, p. 54; "Watts finally gets a hospital," Ebony, December 1974, pp. 124-128, 130, 132, and 134; "Joseph L. Alexander, M.D." in A Century of Black Surgeons: pt. 1 institutional and organizational contributions, by C. H. Organ and M. M. Kosiba; and "Alexander, 72, pioneer as scholar, physician," The Los Angeles Times, 5/14/2002, News section, p. B9.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Journal of the National Medical Association (periodical)
NKAA Source: Crisis (periodical)
NKAA Source: Jet (periodical)
NKAA Source: Ebony (periodical)
NKAA Source: A Century of Black surgeons : the U.S.A. experience
NKAA Source: The Los Angeles times (newspaper)

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“Alexander, Joseph L.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-28 17:50:17