A Visit to Frederick Douglas Boulevard

Last week, at the invitation of Dr. Jessie Fields, I paid a visit to her medical practise, the St. Luke’s Medical Group on Frederick Douglas Boulevard and 147th Street in Harlem.  I came to take some photos and meet several of her patients who participated in the Great Migration.

Wilmont McFadden, Fletcher Baldwin, Dr. Jessie Fields, Wilhemina Middleton, and Annette Middleton
se Wilmont McFadden, Fletcher Baldwin, Dr. Jessie Fields, Wilhemina Middleton, and Annette Middleton

Jessie has been having conversations with several of her patients who came north during the Great Migration.  I was honored to meet this group of Americans who left the devastating racism of the deep south, and took the risk to move to Harlem. Wilmont McFadden (far L) came to Harlem when he was 20.  He came by bus from Florence, SC.  His family were sharecroppers.  Fletcher Baldwin was born in 1936. His mother was a housekeeper and he grew up picking cotton, which he hated.  He came to Harlem when he was fifteen after stops in DC and PA.  He has never been back. Wilhemina Middleton can to NYC on a Greyhound bus when she was 16. She also grew up in rural South Carolina and learned to pick cotton, which she enjoyed. She has deep ties to SC, her mother remained there until her death five years ago. We celebrated Wilhemina Middleton’s 71st birthday with a little cake.  Wilhemina Middleton turns 71   Wilhemina and Fletcher talked some about growing up in SC, picking cotton, the slowness of life and the move North.  Wilhemina’s daughter, Annette talked about how she did not think she would have been able to survive what her mother and Mr. Bladwin went through.  Wilhemina said in her quiet voice, “oh, you would have been alright.”

A visit with Dr. Fields
Fletcher Baldwin, Dr. Jessie Fields, Wilhemina Middleton, and Annette Middleton

It was a pleasure to spend some time with Dr. Fields, Mr. Baldwin, Ms. Middleton, Mr. McFadden and Annette Middleton. We talked a bit about the book, Dr. Fields gave everyone a copy.  It was also wonderful to see how much they appreciate and care for their doctor, Jessie Fields. Dr. Fields now keeps copies of The Warmth of Other Suns in her office to share with her patients, who have been delighted to learn about the book.  The book opens many new conversations about their experiences.  I hope they will be able to join our conversation with Isabel Wilkerson just one week from today. Our conference call with Isabel Wilkerson is on Sunday, July 13th at 7 pm.  The call in number is (805) 399-1200 and the passcode is 767775#.

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

2 thoughts on “A Visit to Frederick Douglas Boulevard

  1. That is such a wonderful thing you are doing, Jessie. These conversations with your patients seem so important.

    When I was 5 yo my family moved to Atlanta Georgia for a year as part of my father’s war time assignment. He and my mother were in the communist party that was very involved in organizing in the south. My five yo memory is of the intense segregation and the and ordinary ways that black people were abused in daily life. We had dinner table conversations about Jim Crow rules, and, undercover of darkness, i remember visiting the black community with my father as he attended an organizing meeting. Reading the book and your writing has brought back memories that I have not touched in years.

    Susan

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