The Emory University School of Medicine formally apologized to Hood, inviting him to speak at the Atlanta, Georgia, university Thursday as part of a Juneteenth event.
“And when they gave him the honorary degree, I said to myself, ‘Gosh, he can come over here at my school and get an honorary degree, and I can’t even put my foot on his campus,'” Hood said. “And I didn’t think that was quite right.”
So in 1959, Hood applied to Emory’s medical school. The rejection took less than a week, he said.
“I am sorry I must write you that we are not authorized to consider for admission a member of the Negro race,” wrote L. L. Clegg, the school’s director of admissions at the time, according to the school.
Emory returned his $5 admissions fee. “I don’t even know if they looked at my credentials,” Hood said.
That didn’t stop him, though. Hood eventually went to attend medical school at Loyola University in Chicago, specializing in gynecology and obstetrics.
“Life is full of hurdles,” Hood said at the event. “But the thing that I thought is if there’s a hurdle there, there must be a way to get around it or over it.”
Emory didn’t desegregate until 1962, when the Georgia Supreme Court sided with the university in its challenge to state laws that denied tax-exempt status to schools that racially integrated. Emory admitted its first Black medical student, Hamilton E. Holmes, the next year, the school said.
Read More: Emory University School of Medicine formally apologizes after rejecting an applicant