The News & Advance was running an important story on the unveiling of a memorial in Virginia to the United States’ first African American veterinarian, Augustus Nathaniel Lushington. Lushington, who was born on August 1, 1869 and died sometime in 1939, was also the first African American to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania.
He received this award in 1897. Lushington practiced in Philadelphia for two years before becoming an instructor at the Bell Mead Industrial and Agriculture College in West Virginia, where he taught veterinary hygiene and hygiene. He then practiced veterinary medicine in Lynchburg, Virginia.
At the time, Lynchburg was a very separate town where Lushington was incredibly discriminated against and yet earned the respect of many as a great veterinarian. The memorial to Lushington was unveiled at Fifth Street Baptist Church on 1007 5th St and commissioned by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The News & Advance report on the occasion of the unveiling. There were many speakers at the event, including Church Pastor Rev. R. Stuart Jones; and other delegates. One of these speakers, who lives in Lynchburg, Jane Baber Whitewas instrumental in building over 25 historical monuments across the city. She played a key role in getting Virginia’s Historical Resources Department to approve the historical marker.
White, a landscaper and history student, said it was important to continue educating the public about major black history figures in the city. Many such historical figures of the past are unknown despite the immense service they have rendered in the face of massive opposition and prejudice.
As the first African American veterinarian in the country, Lushington was certainly a very important figure who received little or no recognition in Lynchburg and across the country. Even so, Lushington was a respected member of his community, with memberships on the statistical reporter for the Bureau of Animal Industry, the Federal Department of Agriculture, and the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.
He was also very active in his church, the Good Shepherd Chapel. Given the lingering prejudice in the country, White felt it was important to point out the great figure in African American history in order to change negative narratives about African Americans.
Lushington was born in Trinidad as a descendant of slaves from what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His grandfather worked as a slave on sugar plantations. His father was a butcher and farm laborer and collected products for the market. After receiving his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1897, he became a veterinarian.
Within two years of his graduation, he was in Lynchburg, where he would stay for the rest of his life. He worked mainly for large farms and specialized in treating cattle and horses.
It is interesting to note that the history of veterinary medicine in the country is so closely tied to the history of African American people. From the struggles of early pioneers like Lushington to the work of the best veterinary cliniccan we find a common thread.
Published on May 13, 2021