Representative Espaillat Honors Legacy of Harlem Doctor May Edward Chinn, Pioneer Black Female Physician In NYC

Today, Representative Adriano Espaillat honored Dr. May Edward Chinn by submitting a Congressional Record insert acknowledging her life’s work and legacy.

Dr. Chinn was the first Black woman to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1926, which is now known as New York University Grossman School of Medicine and the first Black woman to complete an internship at Harlem Hospital in 1928.

Today and every day, we honor herstory and commend her determination to provide medical care to the disadvantaged and for her work in cancer detection:

Read Rep. Espaillat’s full remarks upon entry to the Congressional Record honoring the life and work of Dr. May Edward Chinn.

Dr. May Edward Chinn dedicated her life to serving others and through her determination and hard work, she helped advanced medical treatments for cancer screening that continues to save lives still today,” said Rep. Espaillat. “During a time in our history when many of our institutions remained segregated, Dr. Chinn often faced barriers and was excluded due to her race and gender. Yet, like the many who have proceeded her, Dr. Chinn persisted, and she persevered. Creating a haven for patients of color by opening her own practice in Harlem and regularly performing procedures in patients’ homes because of her inability to use surgical equipment in New York City public hospitals during the time, Dr. Chinn is a trailblazer, and her professional journey should serve as an inspiration for all of us. I am grateful to the Harlem Cultural Archives for its research to share this story and I am honored to enter Dr. Chinn’s life story and legacy into the Congressional Record.” 

“Dr. Chinn represents the selfless and caring spirit of Black women around this country,” said Manhattan community activist Michelle D. Winfield. “Even with barriers and adversities, she became a trailblazer for Black women in medicine while selflessly serving the residents of Harlem and New York City. We are grateful to Congressman Espaillat for helping share the story of one of Harlem’s gems and delighted to know that the legacy of Dr. Chinn has not gone unnoticed.”

“The Harlem Cultural Archives historical society is grateful to Congressman Espaillat for today’s entry into the Congressional Record of the little-known story of Dr. May Edward Chinn,” said Glenn Hunter, executive director of the Harlem Cultural Archives. “Dr. Chinn was the first African American female to complete her internship and be granted admitting privileges to Harlem Hospital and collaborated with other medical professionals to find ways to detect early cervical cancer which culminated in the Pap Test. Through the barriers and obstacles she faced, her work and research continue to save lives and impact each of us. HERstory is one deserving to be shared far and wide and we are truly grateful for all who have helped ensure her legacy is not forgotten.”


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Representative Espaillat is the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and his congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill, and the northwest Bronx.

First elected to Congress in 2016, Representative Espaillat is serving his third term in Congress. Representative Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities.

He is also a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), where he serves in a leadership role as the Second Vice-Chair and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where he serves as Deputy Whip.

Representative Espaillat also currently serves as a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/

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