Dr. Joycelyn Elders

Joyce Lynn elders was the eldest child of Arkansas sharecroppers, born in 1933. Through a series of remarkable happenstance, she ended up going to medical school and becoming a pediatrician.

When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he appointed her to be director of the Arkansas Department of Health. And when he became president in January 1993, Mr. Clinton chose Dr. Elders to be the U.S. Surgeon General. She was the first African American to serve in that position.

But almost from the beginning, Dr. Elders’s bluntness and forthright way of speaking. Got her into hot water. She was anything but politically correct .

And by the end of 1994, the president was forced to ask her for her resignation.

I met her in 1996, when she wrote a memoir.

Now a quick note about the audio quality of this interview. The tape it’s on is, of course, almost 26 years old. And it seems not to have held up as well as most of my collection. But I thought this was an important interview that you needed to hear.

So here now, from 1996, Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders is 88 now. She is a professor emerita of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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