A Project to Honor the Life of a Great American

“I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live.”

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson was born to Rev. Millard F. Jefferson, a Methodist pastor, and Gurtline “Gurthie” Roberts Jefferson on April 6, 1927. She, with her family, returned to the Walnut Grove Community in Panola County, the birthplace and childhood home of her mother, as a very young child. Thereafter, Dr. Jefferson always considered Panola County as her home.

Dr. Jefferson graduated from Carthage Colored High School – later known as Turner High School – in 1943. She later graduated summa cum laude from Texas College in Tyler (Texas); earned a master's degree from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts; and in 1951 became the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

After graduating from Harvard, she became the first African-American surgical intern at the prestigious Boston City Hospital, and the first female admitted into the Boston Surgical Society. Hailed as a powerful and poised orator, Dr. Jefferson made three unsuccessful attempts for the U.S. Senate. But Dr. Jefferson is perhaps best known for her fervent right-to-life position.

In 1981, she testified before Congress as a result of the historic 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade. Passionate about her pro-life beliefs, Dr. Jefferson served as president of the National Right to Life Committee three times and is credited as one of the founders of the organization in the early 1970's. Dr. Jefferson was also a former director of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life group and was a member of a host of other pro-life organizations. She championed the efforts of the pro-life movement and distinguished herself as not on ly an accomplished physician but also as a crusader for the rights of the unborn child.

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson passed away at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 15, 2010 at the age of 84. She is survived by one aunt, Thelma Roberts, and a host of cousins and dear friends.

The 2-Part Project

The life of Dr. Jefferson is a story of perseverance and devotion to her fellowman and serves as an inspiring example of what one person can accomplish when challenges and obstacles are overcome by hard work and dedication. We want to share her inspiring and uplifting story with the present and future generations and to insure her accomplishments are not forgotten in the history of this remarkable lady's hometown.

The project is the brainchild of a retired Texas judge who realized that Mildred grew up in his home town. He decided that Mildred should be memorialized by both a monument and a scholarship.

The Project has two objectives:

  1. Erecting a bust of Dr. Jefferson together with an informative plaque in Anderson Park on the historic downtown square of Carthage. We have received the unanimous enthusiastic support of the Commissioners Court of Panola County for the project. The artwork was completed by artist and sculptor Bob Harness. The bust was dedicated back on February 22, 2018 (to coincide with Black History Month).
  2. Creating a scholarship at Panola College to be named “The Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson Memorial Scholarship.”
The Best Video on the Life of Dr. Mildred Jefferson

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