Herman J. Glass, Sr.
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Herman J. Glass Sr.

Hospital Administrator of Sumby and Providence Hospitals; Commissioner of Hospitals


Arthur W Boddie

Mr. Herman J. Glass, Sr. was born July 20, 1925 to Sidney and Willie Grayson Glass in the all black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. He grew up on a farm with thirteen siblings, and graduated from Mound Bayou High School in 1942. Following his graduation, Mr. Glass moved to Detroit and worked for the Ford Motor Company at the River Rouge Plant until he was drafted into the Army in 1943.

Mr. Glass's career in hospital administration began in April 1948 when he accepted a job managing the 48 bed Sidney Sumby Memorial Hospital in River Rouge, Michigan. He immediately applied for accreditation, and by 1950, the hospital received full accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. Once fully accredited, Mr. Glass set about creating a general practice residency program at Sumby Memorial Hospital, which began training physicians in 1954. During his 14 year tenure at Sumby Memorial, Mr. Glass guided the evolution of the hospital from a 48 bed facility into a 100 bed fully accredited training institution.

In 1962, Mr. Glass left Sidney Sumby Memorial Hospital to oversee the completion of the new Providence Hospital and its move from Detroit to Southfield, Michigan. He served as the Assistant Administrator of this majority institution until 1969, and worked diligently to desegregate as many departments in the hospital as he could. Glass's tenure at Providence Hospital ended when Mayor Roman Gribbs appointed him the Commissioner of Hospitals for the City of Detroit, a position he filled until 1972. During his term as Commissioner of Hospitals, Mr. Glass was responsible for the administration of Detroit General Hospital on St. Antoine (later renamed Detroit Receiving Hospital and moved to the Detroit Medical Center) and the Detroit Psychiatric Institute within the Herman Kiefer Hospital complex.

Throughout his career, Mr. Herman J. Glass, Sr. has been a member of many organizations, including the Greater Detroit Area Hospital Planning Council, the Fight for Freedom Dinner Committee, the Cotillion Club, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mr. Glass retired from hospital administration in 1973.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
12 June  1997
audio clip
The following excerpt illustrates individual counter actions made against segregation in "white" institutions:

"I made a lot of changes; I integrated a lot of departments that were lily white. Another example is the admitting department -- lily white. Fortunately, we had a director of that department who was a Canadian, and reasonably liberal. I met with her and asked her, "Why do you ask, when a patient called for a bed, or a doctor called for a bed, "Is the patient black or white?'' [she said,] "Those are my instructions. I was told we are to put black patients together in a room, and white patients together. I said, "If there's a vacant bed in room 3 where there's a white patient, but it's [needed] for a black patient, he would be denied admission?" "Yes." And I said, "I want that changed now. I'll send you a memorandum. If anyone resists that, send them to me." And nobody openly came to me and questioned me on it."


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
Text and images may not be used without the permission of the Kellogg African American Health Care Project.