Dr. Robert Bacon
Born an only child in 1923, Dr. Robert Bacon spent much of his early childhood traveling from house to house and visiting his extended family. His first school in Mississippi was funded by the Rosenwald Foundation. A wealthy philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald created his foundation to promote education and health care.
In 1929, Dr. Bacon followed his parents up to Chicago suburb of Lake Forest where they worked as domestic servants. He excelled as a student in Lake Forest’s integrated public school system where he was only one of a handful of African-American students.
Following his 1941 graduation from high school, Dr. Bacon attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee on an academic scholarship. One of the leading predominantly black colleges in the United States, Fisk attracted many of the children of the black middle class.
As a child, Dr. Bacon visited his extended family in rural Mississippi, and thus was aware of Jim Crow segregation, but his arrival in this southern city brought him face to face with unexpected inequities. For example, he was surprised to learn that when he and his friends attended a movie theater in downtown Nashville, they were required to use a “colored entrance” in the alley and walk up six flights of stairs to sit in the back of the theater. Rather than accept the insult, he chose to leave.
Dr. Bacon was at Fisk University when World War II started. Rather than join the military at the time, he and other outstanding students in the sciences were encouraged to stay in school. Instead, he left Fisk after only three years and entered both Meharry College of Medicine and the Army Specialized Training Program. This program covered medical students’ expense in exchange for their service in the military upon completion of their medical training.
Following medical school, Dr. Bacon completed an internship at Provident Hospital in Chicago, which regularly accepted black doctors, and a residency in urology through Washington University Hospital in St. Louis. Following his residency, Dr. Bacon fulfilled his military obligation, serving in the U.S. Army in Korea during the Korean War.
Dr. Bacon’s wife, Bernice (nee Narcisse), was from Houston, and they had married there in 1947. Following his discharge from the army, he returned to Houston to establish his practice in 1953, and remembers being one of only a handful of specialists among the city’s black doctors.
Dr. Bacon is board certified in urology. He counts among his mentors, Dr. Michael O’Herron, who arranged for Dr. Bacon to perform urological surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital before the hospital integrated its medical staff. In 1975, Dr. Bacon joined the faculty at Baylor School of Medicine as its first full-time African-American faculty member. Dr. Bacon is a past president of the Houston Medical Forum.
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