Dr. Rachel Keith was born in Monrovia,
Liberia on May 30, 1924. Her parents were American medical
missionaries Clinton C. Boone and Rachel Tharps Boone.
The family returned to the United States in 1926, settled
in Richmond, Virginia where she attended Armstrong High
School, and graduated in 1938. Her undergraduate studies
were completed at Houghton College in Houghton, New
York in 1943.
completed her medical degree at Boston University School
of Medicine in 1949 and began her internship at Harlem
Hospital in New York. She completed a 2-year residency
in internal medicine at Detroit Receiving Hospital in
Dr. Keith entered private practice with Dr. Thomas Batchelor
at his newly built, five suite building on Conant and
East Seven Mile Road. Her hospital affiliations included
Burton Mercy, Detroit Memorial, and Sinai.
is a member of the Wayne County Medical Society, Michigan
State Medical Society, American Medical Association,
Detroit Medical Society, Detroit Gastroenterological
Society, and the National Medical Association.
civic activities include a life membership in the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sitting
on the boards of the American Leprosy Mission, Detroit
Science Center, and the symphony. From 1986 to 1993,
she was on the Michigan Board of Medicine, which reviews
regulatory problems with doctors. Dr. Keith is also
a member of the Great Lakes Chapter of the Links.
Keith discusses some of the reasons why African Americans
are reluctant to participate in research
Why do you think there is a reluctance on the part of
African Americans to participate in research activities?
I think there's some of the publicity, especially about
the Tuskegee [Syphilis] Study. They feel they are being
treated as guinea pigs and they don't want to be experimental
guinea pigs. Blacks want the attention from their own
private physician and they like the fact that they can
communicate a little easier with people who understand
their culture. For that reason, they tend to gravitate
toward black physicians. But I sense recently that there
is an upsurge of those who are willing to become patients
[elsewhere] and especially [as] in [the] Karmanos [Cancer
Institute] over here. There are a number of projects
that are going on and the patients are very actively
and enthusiastically registering with those.