Nicaragua: Commemorating Dr. David Jones Peck
On March 10, 2012 a special event took place in Granada.
By municipal decree a plaque was unveiled in Xalteva Park to mark the presumed final resting place of David Jones Peck, the first African-American to graduate from a medical institution in the United States (Rush Medical College, Chicago, 1847).
With little fanfare and in modest numbers, around a dozen or so people—distinguished guests, scholars, politicians, cultural figures, local citizens—arrived to honor a man whose life ultimately led him to Nicaragua in search of freedom, the kind he could not find back home.
Among those who read prepared statements were Carlos Espinoza, Vice Mayor of the City of Granada, Jorge Eduardo Arellano, distinguished Nicaraguan historian, and Kathleen Boyle, Counselor for Public Affairs from the US Embassy in Managua. The latter delivered a statement on the behalf of Rush Medical College.
Informal speeches were given by Eddy Kühl, Nicaraguan historian and Peck scholar, and Dr. Michael Harris, former professor at Rush Medical College, who has spent many years researching Peck’s life.
Dr. Harris, who traveled from the United States for the occasion, gave a sincere and heartfelt thanks to all present. He added that his research began two decades ago with a simple question posed by a student, “who is David Jones Peck?” And while he could not provide a full answer then, he can certainly do so now.
Who was Dr. Peck, you ask?
The following links are to articles that best tell the relatively brief details of his life, much of which remains shrouded in mystery.
Click on the publisher to read:
- David Jones Peck, MD: A Dream Denied by Michael J. Harris [PDF] (Journal of the National Medical Association)
- David Jones Peck, first Afro-American doctor died in Nicaragua in 1855 by Eddy Kühl (Selva Negra Blog)
- El primer médico afroamericano falleció en Granada hace 157 años by Jorge Eduardo Arellano [in Spanish] (El Nuevo Diario)
In addition, here’s the sole primary source on his time in Nicaragua, an account of the supposed last day of his life, found in a section of chapter 4 entitled “The Death of Doctor Peck”.
- Reminiscences of the “Filibuster” War in Nicaragua, Chapter 4 [PDF] (Charles William Doubleday, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1886)
[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]
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