Internet Explorer Alert

It appears you are using Internet Explorer as your web browser. Please note, Internet Explorer is no longer up-to-date and can cause problems in how this website functions
This site functions best using the latest versions of any of the following browsers: Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Safari.
You can find the latest versions of these browsers at

For Release:


Media Contact:

Lisa Black

Policy statement reckons with painful history regarding “shameful gauntlet to membership” of first Black pediatricians to AAP; commits to bylaws amendment to codify non-discriminatory membership criteria

Itasca, Ill. –  In a formal policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is apologizing for past racism toward its first Black members, Dr. Alonzo deGrate Smith and Dr. Roland Boyd Scott. Both were admitted to the AAP in 1945, six years after their initial applications were rejected based on race.

The policy statement, “Truth, Reconciliation, and Transformation: Continuing on the Path to Equity,” quotes verbatim transcripts from AAP Executive Board minutes, which lay bare some of the racist attitudes and beliefs of early AAP leaders.

“This apology is long overdue,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP. “The AAP is celebrating our 90th anniversary this year – and we have accomplished a lot of good things for children. But we must also acknowledge where we have failed to live up to our ideals. That is the only way we can work together to build a better future.”

The policy statement will be published in the September issue of Pediatrics, and is available online July 29.

At the time of their initial applications to become members of the AAP in 1939, Dr. deGrate Smith and Dr. Scott were clinicians and faculty at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. They faced systemic barriers, including segregation in their local chapter of the American Medical Association, and the inability to gain admitting privileges to local hospitals. When they applied to AAP to become members, they faced a “shameful gauntlet to membership” that lasted six years, through multiple meetings of the AAP Executive Committee.

In publishing the formal apology, AAP also commits to a bylaws referendum to explicitly codify that AAP membership does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The publication comes on the one-year anniversary of the publication of the AAP policy statement, “The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health,” a landmark policy statement that identified racism as a core social determinant of health and a driver of health inequities.  The policy statement outlined a series of actions for pediatricians to address racism at a personal as well as systemic level.

“Formally reckoning with past transgressions and calling racism by name is the only path forward for authentic advancement of the equity agenda within the Academy”, said Joseph Wright, MD, FAAP, AAP Board of Directors member and immediate past chair of the AAP Task Force on Addressing Bias and Discrimination. “At this inflection point in our nation’s history, it is fitting that the Academy is publicly and transparently highlighting its continued leadership commitment to address all threats to the health and well-being of children and their families.”  

As the policy statement says, “The AAP is proud to transparently acknowledge, proud to publicly reconcile, and proud to continue to lead on behalf of the best interests of children, adolescents, and young adults and the people who care for them.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Feedback Form