This year, we’re continuing our recognition of Black History Month, highlighting prominent Black figures in medicine. This week, we’re highlighting Wimberly Edwards, MS, OTR.
Ms. Edwards was born and raised in Harlem and studied occupational therapy at New York University and Boston University. She soon worked as a clinician, supervisor and eventually an administrator and she eventually served as the Chief of Occupational Therapy at Montefiore Hospital.
In 1974, she helped develop the Black Occupational Therapy Caucus (BOTC), a professional organization that worked to recruit and retain Black occupational therapists. The first meeting was meant to be an informal one, with Ms. Edwards and the other founders holding a meeting during the American Occupational Therapy Organization (AOTO). As it became clear that the intended meeting space would not hold all the attendees, the founders moved to create a more formal meeting. Between 25-100 Black occupational therapists and students attended, voicing frustration with the racism they encountered. Many of the attendees agreed to meet at the next AOTO conference and the BOTC was created. The organization still exists today.
Ms. Edwards later co-founded the occupational therapy program at York College in the City University system and spent 25 years there, educating future occupational therapists. She served as an Associate professor and coordinator of the OT program and became the Health Sciences chair in 1996. She retired in May 1999.
Come back soon for another highlight on Black figures in medicine.