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Black Dental Medicine History

Dr. Cummings

Written by Laurel Graham, Head of the Leon Levy Dental Medicine Library:

Class of 1919: Dr. Cummings practiced dentistry in Harlem from 1920 -1969. 

In NY, he fought racial discrimination and anti-semitism; in the 1930s his efforts helped to open up the Dental Society of New York to all.

Graduating sixth in his class, he became the first Black to be elected to Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the national dental honor society.
Cummings was also one of only two Black students enrolled in his year at Penn’s School of Dentistry, and he would go on to graduate sixth in a class of 259.

Click on the link to learn more about Dr. Cummings 

A portrait of a young Dr. Cummings.


A photograph of Dr. Cummings with text underneath. The text reads, "Willis Nelson Cummings, wearing his Penn letter."

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