Dr. Louis Sullivan
Read the complete original profile
Inducted in 2019
Dr. Louis Sullivan can remember wanting to be a doctor since he was a young child. As an African-American growing up in rural Georgia in the 1930s, he might have seemed an unlikely candidate for the competition inherent in attending medical school.
“We lived in a rural community where education for blacks in those years was really very marginal,” Sullivan said.
But his parents appreciated the value of a good education and were willing to go to great lengths to get one for Louis and his older brother, Walter. His mother, a teacher, and his father, a funeral home operator and ambulance service owner, arranged at different times for the brothers to live with relatives or friends in towns where schools offered blacks a better opportunity to learn. So, for part of his grade school years he stayed with a relative in Savannah, Ga., and attended junior and senior high school in Atlanta while living with family friends.
That decision was just one of many that Sullivan’s parents made that cumulatively got him on track to become, first and foremost, a doctor, but also an activist for racial equity, an educator of physicians and HHS secretary. Now Sullivan can add the Modern Healthcare Health Care Hall of Fame to his stack of awards and honors.