Leon Gant
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Leon Gant

Dentist

Private Practice

 

Leon Gant
BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Leon Gant was born in Albion, Michigan on September 28, 1923. His parents are Julius Gant, Sr. and Cornelia Baxter Gant. They had migrated from Alabama to Michigan in 1922 to secure work for Mr. Gant, Sr. in the foundries of Albion.

Dr. Gant graduated from Washington Gardner Senior High School in 1941. He accepted a full athletic scholarship to run track at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He completed the pre-dental program there and was preparing to transfer to Meharry Medical College to study dentistry when he was drafted into the Army in 1943. He returned to his studies at Meharry in 1946 and graduated from the School of Dentistry in 1949.

Dr. Gant returned to Michigan and worked in an established practice in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He served in the Korean Conflict and was commissioned in 1951 and discharged in 1953. Dr. Gant returned to Michigan after being discharged from the Army and established a practice on 12th Street near Virginia Park. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Gant became the first African American dentist to be appointed to the staff of Wayne County General Hospital.

He left the hospital after a year of working there in order to devote full-time energy to his private practice. Dr. Gant's practice was established in Detroit in 1954 and has been at the current Plymouth Road location since 1972. Early on, he was also affiliated with Burton Mercy Hospital for a few years.

In order to increase the number of African Americans interested in becoming dentists, Dr. Gant started the Dental Career Day program at the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit during his presidency of the Wolverine Dental Society.

Dr. Gant maintains memberships in the American Dental Association, Wolverine Dental Society, Michigan Dental Association, the Euwel Neil Dental Society, and the Detroit District Dental Society. He is a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has held various offices in each of the professional dental groups to which he belongs.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
16 September  1998
audio clip

Excerpt: (Dr. Gant, former President of the Wolverine Dental Society stated the following with regard to increasing minority enrollment and the underlying quota system enforced as late as the 1970s at the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit in Dentistry…)

“They would take African American students—only two. If they took three, one was not going to finish. And the Wolverine [Dental Society] got an injunction against the School because they were not following the rules of the Hill-Burton Act. They had to have 10% minority students, and at that time minority was African American. We got an injunction against the School, and they decided that they would abide by the law. They wanted our dentists to recruit students at the predominantly African American schools. They were sending White dentists to predominantly White schools out-of-state. So we got an African American dentist that lived in Ann Arbor to recruit, and we got the injunction and we started getting students. And, in fact, the first year if there were 100 students coming in at Michigan, there had to be 10 African Americans. The first week after there was seven, and it was a rush job so most of them didn’t make it. The second or third year there was going to be 150, the top student body at Michigan, that meant 15, and we caught h— trying to get 15 students. And we set up a mentor or a sponsorship. Each student that got in Michigan, they were assigned a member of the Wolverine to help them if they had a problem and you know, to be a mentor and support for that particular student. And when it got to the point where they changed minority to mean women, Hispanics, Native American, and Asian. So that diluted a number of African American students. But when they took in an African American female, you covered two spots at one time, and that’s why I say, one year, out of seven, I think, all the African American fellows flunked and the four girls finished.”

 

William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young

 

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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
Text and images may not be used without the permission of the Kellogg African American Health Care Project.