Dr. Monroe A. Majors

Monroe Alpheus Majors—the first Black Texan to obtain a medical degree—was never content simply to be a pioneer for African Americans in the field of medicine. Throughout his life, he pursued writing, politics, and education, always advocating for racial equality, and making many enemies along the way. Threats of violence or even death haunted him throughout his life due to his political activities, and these threats compelled him to move across the country many times, sometimes spending less than a year in one city before having to flee again.

Majors was born in Waco in 1864 to Andrew Jackson Majors and Jane Barringer Majors. Little is known about his parents’ history, except that his father was born in Tennessee and his mother in North Carolina, and it is likely that they were both enslaved. At age ten, Majors worked as a page for the Texas Legislature during Reconstruction, inaugurating his lifelong involvement in politics. He graduated from the Meharry Medical Department of Central Tennessee College in 1886, and then moved to Brenham, Texas to practice medicine. While in Brenham, he and several colleagues founded the Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, created for Black physicians, who were excluded from the Texas Medical Association. Shortly thereafter, his name appeared on a list of prominent individuals in Brenham who were being threatened by a racist group. He had to move to Calvert, then to Dallas, and eventually to Los Angeles to escape these threats, and he later learned that two of the people on that list had been lynched.

Once in California, Majors became the first Black American to practice medicine West of the Rocky Mountains. He lectured at the Los Angeles Medical College, edited the Los Angeles Western News, and successfully promoted the appointment of Black individuals to police and local government roles. He married Georgia Green in 1889 and moved back to Waco the following year, after their daughter Grace was born. There, he continued to practice medicine, lectured at Paul Quinn College, and founded a hospital for African Americans in Waco. He published his book Noted Negro Women: Their Triumphs and Activities in 1893, and was editor of the Texas Searchlight, a serial publication addressing topics that concerned Black Wacoans, from 1893-1895. He moved to Decatur, Illinois in 1898, but when threats quickly surfaced once again, in response to his public disapproval of a lynching that had occurred, he fled to Indianapolis. He published several poems and articles while in Indianapolis, all aimed at uplifting Black Americans and denouncing the terrorism so often used by white racists.

Majors came back to Waco in 1899 to serve as the superintendent of the hospital he had founded, but after a year, death threats again forced him to leave. He spent the rest of his career in Chicago, where he practiced medicine, published more poems and articles, and was recruited by Booker T. Washington to serve as editor for the Chicago Conservator for three years. He divorced his wife in 1908 and married Estelle Bonds in 1909, by whom he had a second daughter named Margaret. He would later go on to marry two more times. In 1925, Majors began losing his eyesight, and he moved back to Los Angeles in 1933, where he was much less politically and professionally active. He died in Los Angeles on December 10, 1960.

Monroe Majors is known primarily for his trailblazing work as a doctor, but his legacy is equally one of activism. If services or organizations were unavailable to Black communities, he founded new organizations to fill that gap. When tragic lynchings and racially-motivated terrorism occurred, he spoke out against it, even when it garnered death threats and forced him yet again to uproot his life. His writings and poems encouraged Black communities to embrace intellectual pursuits, celebrate the achievements of their race, and denounce the terrorism and hate they experienced. Majors’ professional and political life was pervaded by his strong sense of justice and his courage in the face of hatred.



This is the approximate location of Majors' last Waco residence in 1900.