February is recognized as Black History Month annually, and Parker University is excited to celebrate, honor, and identify the significant contributions from the black community, not just during this month but every day!

To recognize this important time, we’ve checked out and researched the importance and history of Black History Month and the chiropractic industry. Everyone, including clinics, chiropractic schools, and organizations, should find opportunities for the importance of this time to resonate.

Black History and Chiropractic

Chiropractic originated 125 years ago when Daniel David Palmer treated Harvey J. Lillard, a black man, for a hearing issue that resulted from a spine injury. This occurrence is known as the first chiropractic adjustment. Though the adjustment was to Mr. Lillard’s spine, it restored his hearing, and the art of chiropractic was born!

In 1913, Fred Rubel, DC, became the first known African American to graduate from the National School of Chiropractic. Later, in 1922, Dr. Rubel founded the Rubel College of Chiropractic in Chicago. Then, in March 1923, Central Chiropractic College became a segregated chiropractic school in Washington, D.C. In 1927, A.A. Cole and John User founded the Interstate Chiropractic Association, the first black chiropractic association. In 1947, Samantha P. Adams, DC, became the first African American woman chiropractor on the Ohio State Medical Board. For 33 years, Dr. Adams was the only African American chiropractor in Toledo, Ohio. In 1954, Walton Russ, DC, was the first African American to become a licensed chiropractor in Arkansas. Fast forward to when Jerry Hardee, DC, was the first African American president of any U.S. chiropractic college, serving as the third president of Sherman College of Chiropractic from July 2001 to July 2005. Years later, in January 2020, Rodney Williams, DC, became the first African American inducted as a Fellow of the International Council of Chiropractors during the American Chiropractic Association’s Engage 2020 Conference.

The American Black Chiropractic Association

Today, the American Black Chiropractic Association (ABCA) integrates and improves outcomes for persons of color entering the chiropractic profession.

While a chiropractor in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Bobby Westbrooks founded the ABCA in 1981. His vision? To help empower African American doctors and students in chiropractic. Dr. Westbrooks recognized that many African Americans were not familiar with chiropractic care and that many chiropractic college programs did not have many minority students. These factors caused a low number of African American graduates, and communities of color often did not receive the critical benefits of chiropractic services. So, Dr. Westbrooks acknowledged the absolute need for minority services in the chiropractic profession and founded the ABCA with other African American doctors.

The ABCA provides countless acts of education, inspiring current and future chiropractors to make a difference. Most chiropractic college campuses, just like Parker University, host student chapters of the ABCA. The Harvey Lillard Scholarship Program offers students valuable scholarships, and the ABCA also contributes to chiropractic career fairs to encourage African American students to become chiropractors.

Parker University is proud to recognize the black history that enabled the chiropractic industry to become what it is today. To get additional information or to learn more about the American Black Chiropractic Association, click here! Are you interested in Parker University’s Doctor of Chiropractic program? Go to parker.edu/academics/doctor-of-chiropractic-degree.