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UT Health Science Center to Welcome Dr. Alvin Crawford, First African American Graduate, to Celebrate Release of Autobiography

Dr. Alvin Crawford

Alvin Crawford, MD, the first African American to attend and graduate from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, will return to his alma mater Monday, February 26, for a celebration and book signing of his recently published autobiography, a presentation on his research, and visits with students.

A 1964 College of Medicine graduate, Dr. Crawford is a renowned expert in spinal deformities and neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. He recently retired as the founding director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and is a professor emeritus of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Dr. Crawford will sign copies of his autobiography, “The Bone Doctor’s Concerto: Music, Surgery, and the Pieces in Between,” at a public reception at 6-8 p.m. in the Mooney Library on the UT Health Science Center campus in Memphis, 875 Monroe Ave.

Published in November, the book details Dr. Crawford’s journey from growing up in Memphis’ Orange Mound community to having a groundbreaking medical career that includes traveling the world as a surgeon for the Navy. Dr. Crawford tells about his time playing in jazz bands in the South, how he considered pursuing a degree and career in music, and how he overcame racism, segregation, and other challenges along his way to becoming an influential leader in the field of medicine.

“Dr. Alvin Crawford has given us all an incredible gift – his life story and a glimpse inside what has made him the surgeon, teacher, and man he is,” said Brigitte Grant, vice chancellor for Advancement at UT Health Science Center. “From his early years and the life lessons his family instilled, to the challenges, perseverance, and determination he exhibited, along with the professional and personal achievements and most notably the many, many lives he has touched – this is a story each of us can learn from and take into our personal lives. It is an honor to welcome Dr. Crawford home.”

Prior to the book signing, Dr. Crawford will visit Melrose High School, where he was a student, and White Station High School to provide STEM students with insight into the medical profession and advice on achieving success. He is scheduled to be at Melrose at 9-10 a.m. and White Station at 1:30-2:10 p.m.

Dr. Crawford will also give a presentation at UT Health Science Center as part of the Vice Chancellor for Research’s Distinguished Lecture Series entitled “Management of Cervical Instability as a complication of Neurofibromatosis Type 1 in Children: An Historical Perspective With a 40-year Experience.” The lecture is at 3-4 p.m. in Freeman Auditorium, 930 Madison Ave. The series brings nationally and internationally prominent researchers to the UT Health Science Center campus to present on the world’s most pressing research topics, share ideas, and foster collaboration.

Over his illustrious career, Dr. Crawford has been the recipient of many awards and accolades and has inspired countless students and trainees in his profession. He continues his relationship with UT Health Science Center, having returned for reunions, attended graduation, and established with his wife the Alvin H. and Alva J. Crawford Endowed Medical Scholarship to support students in the College of Medicine. Additionally, he is the first Black president of the Scoliosis Research Society and the founder and sponsor of Black Men in Medicine Cincinnati, a mentoring organization aimed at increasing awareness of the need for Black men in medicine.

Guests are asked to RSVP for the book signing and reception by Tuesday, February 20.