The incredible success of two Black doctors in the Jim Crow south
On our latest episode of Tell Me About Your Father, co-hosts Erin and Elizabeth talk to Natalie Cash Petersson, a New York City-based film producer, about the remarkable stories of her maternal grandfather, Dr. David Griffin, and his brother, her great uncle, Dr. Joseph Howard Griffin. Joseph Howard, who went by JH, and David were sons of an enslaved father who became trailblazing physicians in South Georgia, both prosperous and celebrated members of their communities during the racial terror of Jim Crow. The success of the particularly wealthy JH, who owned his own hospital as well as a substantial amount of land, was so unusual in Georgia at the time, it led some of her family members to ask questions about his practice that couldn’t be answered. Petersson tells us what was uncovered by a sleuthing journalist cousin, and discusses Brunswick, Georgia, where her Grandfather David worked as the city’s first Black doctor and has a public park named after him. Brunswick is also where, on February 23, 2020, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by a white father and son while he was out jogging on a Sunday afternoon.
The Griffin brothers' work is a fascinating tale of two family patriarchs set against the painful legacy of slavery and racism in America. Listen as Petersson talks about what their stories mean to her family today.