Diversity in Osteopathic Medical Education

Books on Diversity in Medicine


Honor and celebrate Black History Month and beyond by reading some of these books recommended by AACOM staff and the osteopathic medical education community!

Black History Month Reading List

As one small way to honor and celebrate Black History Month, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) is excited to share this comprehensive list of must-read books recommended by AACOM staff and the osteopathic medical education community. Whether you are a medical student, practicing physician or someone who made a resolution to read more in 2022, these books will motivate, inspire, educate and move you as we all strive to create a more just and equitable society and culture. 


Autobiographies of a Black Couple of the Greatest Generation 

This book by William Anderson, DO, and his wife Norma Anderson describes their life journey, covering many decades and their pivotal role as founders of the Albany Movement in Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement, which included Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph David Abernathy.   

Blacks-in-Osteopathic-Medicine_130Blacks in Osteopathic Medicine: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

In this book, Darnita Anderson Hill, DO, has captured the positive impact Black osteopathic physicians have on the profession and their communities. From Dr. Meta Christy, the first Black osteopathic physician, to today, the physicians highlighted in this easy-to-read book are dedicated to caring for their communities, treating the whole person and focusing on the humanity of each individual. Dr. Hill’s book should be required reading for every osteopathic medical student and in the library of every osteopathic medical school and practicing DO.   


In this book, Harriet A. Washington lays bare the racist pseudoscience that has existed in our nation for centuries. From the earliest pre-Revolutionary War era until today, Black bodies have been maltreated at the hands of white physicians and researchers for the benefit of white patients. Medical Apartheid includes details of how both enslaved and free Black people were used for experiments, from Marion Sims, the so-called “father of gynecology,” to the Tuskegee study, to Henrietta Lacks, to modern-day chemical and water experiments. From this maltreatment comes the pseudoscience of eugenics, which, many are shocked to learn, formed the basis of Hitler’s ideas about the purity of the Aryan (white) race, which led, of course, to the Holocaust, murdering millions upon millions of people considered “impure.” Medical students and healthcare professionals across the country should read this book and take its lessons to heart.   

Pulse-of-Perseverance_130Pulse of Perseverance: Three Black Doctors on Their Journey to Success

 This book, written by three Black doctors—Pierre Johnson, MDMaxime Madhere, MD; and Joseph Semien, Jr., MD—details the challenges these physicians faced in getting to and through college and medical school. One of these physicians’ stories alone would be incredibly encouraging and inspiring; the three together are powerful! If you are a medical student and need to find some extra motivation, this is the book for you.  

nullOvercoming the Odds: From War on the Streets in Louisiana to War on Terrorism in Iraq, How I Successfully Overcame the Odds

This book by Antonio J. Webb, MD, provides an intimate look at this successful spine surgeon’s journey to medical school, and all the challenges and roadblocks along the way. Overcoming the Odds will have you rooting for the young Antonio as he does the very best he can to beat the odds. If you know a student who is struggling, this book will inspire them to overcome as well.  

This New York Times bestseller by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt, who were chosen by Essence to be among the 40 most influential African Americans, is a remarkable story about the power of friendship describing three doctors who grew up in the streets of Newark, facing city life's temptations, pitfalls and even jail. But these three young men promised each other they would all become doctors, and stick it out together through the long, difficult journey to attaining that dream. This is a story about joining forces and beating the odds. A story about changing your life, and the lives of those you love most, together.  

Beside-the-Troubled-Waters_130Beside the Troubled Waters: A Black Doctor Remembers Life, Medicine, and Civil Rights in an Alabama Town

Beside the Troubled Waters is a memoir by Dr. Sonnie Wellington Hereford III and Jack D. Ellis about an African American physician in Alabama whose story in many ways typifies the lives and careers of Black doctors in the South during the segregationist era while also illustrating the diversity of the Black experience in the medical profession. Based on interviews conducted with Hereford over ten years, this memoir stands out because of its medical and civil rights themes and its compelling account of the professional ruin Hereford encountered after 37 years of practice, as the end of segregation and the federal role in medical care placed Black doctors in competition with white ones for the first time.  

Edited by Dr. Praise MatemaviPassion and Purpose Volume 1 is a complete collection of 75 beautiful stories created to inspire women everywhere to believe in the power of their dreams. These phenomenal women have experienced heartache and challenges along their paths that only served to make them more determined to accomplish their goals. Even though their stories are about becoming surgeons, they will inspire every young woman to believe they can accomplish anything they set their hearts and minds to achieve. Dr. Matemavi created this outstanding book to inspire young adults everywhere and intends to use proceeds from this book to fund scholarships for up-and-coming women in the medical field.


Passion and Purpose Volume 2: Black Female Surgeons 

Passion and Purpose Volume 2 is a division of the original book and is a collection of 33 of the 75 stories. Volume 2 contains the surgery disciplines obstetrics and gynecologic surgery, gynecologic oncology surgery, orthopedic surgery, cardio-thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, ophthalmology surgery, otolaryngologic surgery, plastics and reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, surgical oncology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, ten stories of surgeons in training and Dr. Matemavi's story.  

In Brain Surgeon, Keith Black, MD, invites readers to shadow his breathtaking journeys into the brain as he battles some of the deadliest and most feared tumors known to medical science. Along the way, he shares his unique insights about the inner workings of the brain, his unwavering optimism for the future of medicine and the extraordinary stories of his patients, whom he celebrates as the real heroes. Brain Surgeon offers a window into one man's remarkable mind, revealing the anatomy of the unflinching confidence of a master surgeon whose personal journey brought him from life as a young African American boy growing up in the civil rights era South to the elite world of neurosurgery. Through Dr. Black's white-knuckle descriptions of some of the most astonishing medical procedures performed today, he reveals the beauty and marvel of the human brain and tells an inspiring story about the struggle to overcome odds.  

When Damon Tweedy, MD, began medical school, he envisioned a bright future where his segregated, working-class background would become largely irrelevant. Instead, he found that he has joined a new world where race is front and center. The recipient of a scholarship designed to increase Black student enrollment, Tweedy soon met a professor who bluntly questioned whether he belonged in medical school, a moment that crystallized the challenges he would face throughout his career. Making matters worse, in lecture after lecture the common refrain for numerous diseases resounded, "More common in Blacks than in whites." As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Through their stories, he illustrates the complex social, cultural and economic factors at the root of many health problems in the Black community. These issues take on greater meaning when Tweedy is himself diagnosed with a chronic disease far more common among Black people. In this powerful, moving and deeply empathic book, Tweedy explores the challenges confronting Black doctors, and the disproportionate health burdens faced by Black patients, ultimately seeking a way forward to better treatment and more compassionate care.  

In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a revelatory examination of race in America. Protests against racial injustice and white supremacy have galvanized millions around the world. The stakes for transformative conversations about race could not be higher. Still, the task ahead seems daunting, and it’s hard to know where to start. How do you tell your boss her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law hang up on you when you had questions about police reform? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from police brutality and cultural appropriation to the model minority myth in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race, and about how racism infects every aspect of American life.  

In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize-winner and bestselling author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of Black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career and became the personal physician to Ray Charles. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a superb account of an "unrecognized immigration" within our own land.  

New York Times-bestselling author Brit Bennett’s stunning novel is about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one Black and one white. Many years later, one sister lives with her Black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing.   

Hailed by Toni Morrison as "required reading," this profound work by Ta-Nehisi Coates pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son. Americans have built an empire on the idea of "race," a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of Black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a Black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates's attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.  

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s critically acclaimed, bestselling debut novel, young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram's resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today's most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.  

Most business books provide a one-size-fits-all approach to career advice that overlooks the unique barriers that women of color face. In The Memo, Minda Harts offers a much-needed career guide tailored specifically for women of color. Drawing on knowledge gained from her past career as a fundraising consultant to top colleges across the country, Harts now brings her powerhouse entrepreneurial experience as CEO of The Memo to the page. With wit and candor, she acknowledges ugly truths that keep women of color from having a seat at the table in corporate America. Providing straight talk on how to navigate networking, office politics and money, while showing how to make real change to the system, The Memo offers support and long-overdue advice on how women of color can succeed in their careers. 


AACOM thanks Alegneta Long, AACOM vice president of graduate medical education initiatives; Aisha Ali, MHRM, AACOM research analyst; Helene Cameron, PhD, MBA, AACOM vice president of undergraduate medical education services; RaShonda Riddle, MBA, AACOM director of marketing; Trey Hines, AACOM government relations associate; Linda Grace Solis, PhD, assistant professor of applied humanities at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine and chair of AACOM’s Council on Diversity and Equity; and Lori Fitterling, MLS, university library director at the Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences Library and chair of AACOM’s Council of Osteopathic Librarians, for sharing these recommendations. 

Anything we missed? Share your Black History Month reading list by tagging us on Twitter at @AACOMmunities

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