Raiford talks about his educational experiences at the
University of Michigan
Why did you decide to go to the University of Michigan?
R: I guess
because my father went there. He took me to Boston to
see about Harvard. I didn't like the way those folks
acted. I told him, "I don't want to go there." So, I
just went on to the University of Michigan. They said
nothing more about it.
And once you were at the University of Michigan, what
were some of your experiences there?
R: I was
the only one in my class [who] was black.
And what class was that?
the way through!
And what class was that? The class of what year?
R: I graduated
1940. And you were the only one for your whole-how many
years? Four years or five years?
total, seven years. Medical school and [undergraduate]
school. The only one.
How did that make you feel, being the only one all the
R: I didn't
think too much about it. I said, "So what?" You get
accustomed to that.
Were your colleagues curious about you?
Some of them were, yes.
Do you recall some of the things they would ask or inquire
R: I don't
remember them asking too much because they weren't that
Oh, okay. What about your professors?
you want to know about my professors? I still remember
dear old Dr. Weller, or Walter, or whatever his name
was-[the] pathology professor. Three damn years that
man, at every occasion, said, "The totality of human
germ plasma is going down because too many of the wrong
people are having too many babies." Translation-too
many black people having babies. Then I go to my first
class in dermatology, I think it was. The professor
up and starts off, "All Negroes have syphilis."
Did you volunteer to take a test?
do not. Back then, you didn't question any professor
about anything. They were always right. Didn't bug me
at all. I wasn't bothered at all, except I think I got
mad enough to get an 'A' in the course.
Oh, okay. So you just redirected your anger in other
ways? But, that had to upset you. I mean, somebody saying
something like that.
get used to it. After all, they're white and you're