Medical and Dental Associations

What is the professional organization for black dentists?

Origins of the National Dental Association are traced back to the Washington Society for Colored Dentists, which in 1900 began meeting in the District of Columbia. In May of 1901 D. A. Ferguson of Virginia led the formation of the National Association of Colored Dentists at Howard University’s College of Dentistry. For a brief period in 1907 the organization was known as the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society, named in honor of the first black man to graduate from a dental college. Freeman had graduated from Harvard in 1867. The organization focused on education, seminars, lectures, papers, debates, and social activities. When membership had declined five years later, Ferguson led the group that reestablished the organization in 1913 as the Tri-State Dental Association. Membership included dentists from Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. The group flourished, and by 1918 membership embraced fourteen states. As it gained momentum, counting members from twenty-one states, the association was renamed the Interstate Dental Association; in 1923 members began a movement for a national organization. In 1932 the IDA merged with the Commonwealth Dental Society of New Jersey, organized in 1927, to form a national organization known as the National Dental Association. Its mission is to represent people of color and various ethnic groups in the profession, to address the dental needs of the poor and underprivileged, and to improve the educational and financial goals of the membership. There are chapters in forty-eight states and the Caribbean, and the organization has a student organization as well. The NDA Today is the organization’s professional journal.


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