Every Man a ‘Smiling’ King – The Long Legacy’s Colored Dental Program

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Upper section: Marcus Neustadter and Dr. Andrew J. Young; Lower section: Dr. Andrew J. McDonald and Dr. Malcolm McDonald.

Richard Webster Leche was elected to the governorship of Louisiana in 1936 in an election which set out to recover the Long machine’s grip on the Governor’s Mansion. While Governor Leche continued many of Huey Long’s social programs for the masses, he was ultimately pressured into resignation and later convicted on corruption charges – the first Governor of the Great State of Louisiana to be sentenced to prison. He fulfilled the Kingfish’s prophesy: “If those fellows ever try to use the powers I’ve given them without me to hold them down; they’ll all land in the penitentiary.”

Among the beneficial measures he implemented were “Free Clinics on Wheels,” under the heading of the Public Health Service. The traveling clinical wagons provided among other things dental care to many of Louisiana’s residents who otherwise may have never received the services of a dentist.

The program for colored dental patients was spearheaded by Dr. Andrew E. McDonald and Dr. Andrew Jackson Young, two of Louisiana’s most capable colored dentists. The two dentists mapped out an elaborate series of itineraries in order to reach the many rural communities of the state. Each dentist was assigned a Dental Hygienist with Marcus Neustadter serving as assistant to Dr. Young and Dr. Malcolm McDonald serving as assistant to his brother, Dr. A. J. McDonald.

After continued lobbying and reports by Dr. McDonald for expanded service, Dr. John Benny Thompson was added to the program. Dr. Thompson was a 1921 dental graduate of the Meharry Medical School. A World War I veteran, he practiced in Oakdale for one year before establishing a practice in his native Monroe.

Dr. Andrew E. McDonald (1899-1982) was a graduate of Xavier University and the Marquette University College of Dentistry, from which he graduated in 1923. He spent an additional year studying abroad at the Liverpool Dental Hospital in England and the Bordeaux School of Dental Medicine in France. He practiced in Chicago and Milwaukee before returning to New Orleans, where he was the first colored doctor added to the staff of the Louisiana State Hospital Board in 1937.

Dr. Andrew J. Young (1896-1980) was a graduate of Straight University and the Howard University Dental School, from which he graduated in 1920. He spent a few years as a shortstop with a Canadian semi-pro baseball team before establishing a practice in New Orleans.

These doctors helped to ensure the health of their people throughout the state and were a part of the legacy of social programs left by that most famous governor, who declared, “Every Man a King!”

Source: Gray, William H. “Expands Health Program.” The Sphinx 25, no. 3 (August 1939): 22-23.

J.C.L.H.

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