ALPHA RHO BROTHER WILBUR MICHAEL BYRD ENTERS OMEGA CHAPTER OF ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY, INC.
Dr. Wilbur Michael Byrd, 77, of Nashville, Tennessee, passed away on February 19, 2021 in Nashville at Ascension St. Thomas Hospital Midtown.
He was born in Galveston, Texas to Wilbur and Sybil Munchus Byrd on December 26, 1943. He attended high school in Ft. Worth, TX and entered college early at age 14 and graduated from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA. After graduating from Morehouse, Dr. Byrd earned his M.D. degree at Meharry Medical College in 1968. He was a "Renaissance Man" who loved books, art, architecture, music, trains, travel, photography, theater, and was a Board Certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and health policy expert.
Pictured above: Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee.
He served two years as a General Medical Officer in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, serving on active duty in the Vietnam War where he was a Battalion Surgeon and was awarded the Bronze Star medal. He completed his OB-GYN training at Hubbard Hospital of Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN. He later earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.
He was involved in early sit-ins and civil rights direct action led by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers who rallied students in Atlanta and across the nation during the 1960s, recalling the energy and excitement that inspired his later work championing civil rights in medicine and professional arenas. He was a colleague of medical and public health path breakers such as Dr. Louis Sullivan, Dr. Richard Allen Williams, and Dr. David Satcher, a college classmate — reflecting how the “Black Medical Ghetto” produced leaders and health practitioners who transformed the greater society while cultivating excellence under extreme conditions of lack and inequity.
Pictured above: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a US civil-rights student organization active in the 1960s.
Following a decade of private practice and health policy activity in Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Byrd's career turned to full-time academic medicine with appointments at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Texas; Assistant Chief of OB-Gyn at Metropolitan Nashville General Hospital; Assistant Professorships at Meharry Medical College, SUNY Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn, NY, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Byrd published and consulted extensively on the African-American health crisis and minority health policy issues. He became an acknowledged medical historian with a health policy focus. He was lead author, with his wife Dr. Linda A. Clayton, of a two-volume book, An American Health Dilemma. Both volumes were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and contributed to The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History and The Oxford Companion of United States History, served on national and international health committees, national organizations, received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Education Degree from Wheelock College, Boston Massachusetts. a Board Member of the Disparities Solution Center of Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Dr. Byrd was lead author, with his wife Dr. Linda A. Clayton, of a two-volume book, An American Health Dilemma. Both volumes were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. At the time of his death, Dr. Byrd and Dr. Clayton were writing the second edition and third volume of their book. He was also on the faculty at Meharry Medical College, the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Board Member of the Disparities Solution Center of Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Byrd is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Dr. Linda A. Clayton of Nashville, TN, three sons: Dr. Michael Charles Byrd of Houston, TX, Dr. Miles Eugene Byrd of Tallahassee, FL, and Edward Byrd of Nashville, TN; one Aunt Mrs. Ruth Baker of Ft. Worth, TX, cousins, surrogate sister Reverend Carolyn Corey, surrogate daughter Dr. Kellee White, grandchildren, other family, friends, and professional colleagues.
Memorial donations may be made to Meharry Medical College, Dr. W. Michael Byrd Scholarship Fund. The family wishes to extend its gratitude to the Boston Veterans Center, Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, LLC, Black Women's Health Study Group Membership, VA Hospital, Amedisys Home Health Care Services, physicians, staff, and caregivers at Ascension St. Thomas Hospital Midtown.
Pictured above: Spring 1961 pledgees of Alpha Rho Chapter at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.