1 Abolitionist and medic James McCune Smith graduated MD from Glasgow University in 1837, the first African American to get a medical degree.

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2 Born into slavery in 1813, he was freed by New York State’s Emancipation Act on July 4, 1827. Recognised as being intellectually gifted, he attended the African Free School in Manhattan where his achievements led him to apply to several American universities. After being denied entry to all due to his race, he applied for - and was accepted by - the University of Glasgow’s medical school.

3 Realising his talent and intellectual capabilities, some of New York’s more prosperous African Americans combined to pay Smith’s passage to Scotland and contribute towards his tuition and living costs. These would later be shared by the Glasgow Emancipation Society, of which he became an active member during his time in the city.

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4 McCune Smith went on gain three qualifications from the university – a bachelor’s degree in 1835, a master’s degree in 1836, and his medical doctorate in 1837. After returning to New York, he set up a practice in lower Manhattan and became recognised as a prominent figure in the black community and a leading intellectual.

He was instrumental in establishing the National Council of the Colored People. He published several works including The Destiny of the People of Color in 1843 and a biographical introduction to Henry Highland Garnet’s A Memorial Discourse.

Glasgow Times:

5 In the 1840s Smith married Malvina Barnet. They had 11 children but only five survived to adulthood. Dr Smith died of heart disease in 1865, aged just 52. A new £90 million building at the University of Glasgow has been named in his honour as part of a campus redevelopment.