Mixed-race Physician: Dr. Dewitt T. Burton
- Physician Dr. DeWitt T. Burton was a Fisk University
graduate from Memphis who earned his medical degree
from the old Maharry Medical College in Nashville in 1920.
But it was Detroit where he left his mark.
He was founder of the city's first `colored' hospital,
the old Burton Mercy Hospital that was on
Vernor, off Woodward, near Mack.
Burton was the first African American
elected to a statewide office.
In April 1959, he was elected to the first board
of governors of Wayne State University.
The state Legislature in 1956
made Wayne a state university.
Burton was re-elected in 1961.
He also was the very first African American ever nominated
by the state Democratic Party for any political office.
Burton began his practice in Detroit in 1921, was
a member of the surgical staffs at Grace Hospital
and the former Parkside Hospital in the New Center.
He served, at various times, as administrator of
Burton Hospital, superintendent of the Wayne
Diagnostic Convalescent Home in Detroit and
superintendent of Resthaven Hospital in Detroit.
Burton was active in a long list of groups,
busy making a difference behind the scenes.
He served as a member of the board of directors
and was on the local steering committee
of the United Negro College Fund.
He was a board member of the United Foundation,
World Medical Relief and served as a
chairman of the Detroit Urban League.
He was an executive board member of the Boy Scouts
of America and served the NAACP in a variety of posts,
including chairing the annual Freedom Fund dinner.
President John F. Kennedy in 1962 named Burton
to the board of governors of the United Service
Organizations, or USO, which provides
recreation of members of the Armed Forces.
Burton also was active in getting
other African Americans elected.
He was finance chairman on the campaign of
Detroit City Councilman William T. Patrick,
the first African American elected to the council.
He also chaired the election campaigns of
Recorder's Court Judge Elvin L. Davenport and
Wayne Circuit Court Judge Wade H. McCree Jr.
When Burton died in 1970 at age 77, he left behind
a scholarship fund to aid Wayne State students from
Africa called the Tom Mboya Scholarship Fund
or African Students at Wayne State University.
He launched the fund in 1959 to help educate young
people from newly independent nations in Africa.