Dr. Lionel F. Swan was born on April
1, 1906 in Port of Spain, Trinidad to Julia and Horatio
Swan. The Swan family migrated to the United States
and settled in New York City (Harlem) when he was 16
years old. He completed three years of undergraduate
studies at City College of New York during the evenings,
while working odd jobs during the day.
he enrolled in the College of Medicine at Howard University.
The year he studied there also counted toward his final
undergraduate year and he earned the bachelor's degree
to New York City where he worked as an investigator
for the Home Relief Bureau from 1933 until 1935, when
he left to resume his medical school education at Howard
University. Dr. Swan graduated from Howard University's
College of Medicine in 1939.
year, Dr. Swan completed his internship at Homer G.
Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and began working
for the Veterans Administration at John Andrews Hospital
in Tuskegee, Alabama. He established a private practice
in Birmingham, Alabama when he finished his Armed Services
tour in 1943.
relocated to Detroit in 1951 and practiced with Dr.
Jerry A. Thornton in River Rouge. Shortly thereafter,
he established a private general practice in Detroit.
Dr. Swan was a co-founder of the first NAACP Fight for
Freedom Dinner. Dr. Swan has served as president of
the Detroit Medical Society (DMS) and the National Medical
Association (NMA). After he was elected president of
the National Medical Association in 1967, Dr. Swan met
with President Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss the special
problems confronting African American physicians and
patients in this country.
As a result
of that meeting, President Johnson agreed to address
the National Medical Association's convention. President
Johnson's address to the NMA in 1968 was the first time
a United States President had done so.
among Dr. Swan's contributions was his involvement in
the long battle to integrate the staffs of Grace and
Harper Hospitals. Four black physicians were appointed
to Harper's staff in 1960 as a result of the moratorium
on development and expansion of the Detroit Medical
Center. It was inspired by the Detroit Medical Society
request to the Detroit City Council to halt funds for
such development until the hospitals stopped their discriminatory
a man of courage, dignity, and faith died in his Southfield,
Michigan home on Wednesday, June 16, 1999.