Campus News

College of Medicine Celebrates African-American Trailblazers


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 28, 2019) – During February's celebration of Black History Month, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Faculty of Color Network (FCN), with funding from the College of Medicine Diversity & Inclusion Office led by Dr. Renay Scales, honored two living legends and pioneers of the college.

Dr. Carl Watson broke barriers as the first African-American medical student to attend and graduate from the UK College of Medicine. He also completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at UK HealthCare. Since completing his education, he has successfully practiced medicine and serves the community of Oakland, California.

Chester Grundy, a notable Kentucky native who continues to make significant impact in the Lexington community, was also honored at the event. Grundy graduated from UK in 1969. During his time at UK he took part in the movement that established the UK Black Student Union. Grundy continued his work at UK and was appointed as an advisor to former dean of the College of Medicine, Dr. Frederick C. de Beer, from 2012 to 2016. During his tenure, he continued to advocate for underrepresented minorities in the College of Medicine and helped to establish UK’s chapter of the Student National Medical Society (SNMA). FCN celebrated the paths these two men blazed at UK and through various programs aims to keep their legacies alive and promote diversity in medicine.

FCN was established in December 2018, and is dedicated to contributing to the campus community in a meaningful way. They are committed to scholarship and professional development through mentorship, leadership opportunities within the College of Medicine, University of Kentucky at-large and research, as well as community engagement and advocacy by assisting the recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty, students, residents and fellowship trainees.


Seventy years ago, Lyman T. Johnson forced open the doors of the University of Kentucky by becoming the first African-American student. He, along with countless others, opened a door and created a path for us to follow. It’s the idea that anyone — regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, what they believe, how they identify themselves, or where they are from — can find a place at the University of Kentucky. Yet, our story demands that we acknowledge progress on this path has not been a straight line. There have been moments where we have, as an institution, not honored our aspirations. Those moments provide a compelling reminder that building a community of belonging is a journey, not a project. This month, as part of Black History Month, we are chronicling the stories of the trailblazers, innovators and champions, who bravely stepped forward or are pushing us ahead today. Their stories speak to us and guide us still.