Treasure Island

Quotations From JOYCELYN ELDERS

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  • 1.
    Once I had a professor say to me, "You know you have as much education as a lot of white people." I answered, "Doctor, I have more education than most white people."
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 18 (January 30, 1994). Elders, who was the U. S. Surgeon General at the time, was recalling her days as a student at the University of Arkansas Medical School in the 1950s.

    Read more quotations about / on: education, people
  • 2.
    You can't be what you don't see. I didn't think about being a doctor. I didn't even think about being a clerk in a store—I'd never seen a black clerk in a clothing store.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 18 (January 30, 1994). Elders, who was the U. S. Surgeon General at the time, was noting the importance of professional role models for African American children. Explaining why, growing up African American in Arkansas, she wanted to be a lab technician, she said: "That was the only thing I'd ever heard about." Eventually, she met Dr. Edith Irby Jones, the first African American woman to study at the University of Arizona Medical School, and was inspired to become a physician.

    Read more quotations about / on: black
  • 3.
    If I could be the "condom queen" and get every young person who engaged in sex to use a condom in the United States, I would wear a crown on my head with a condom on it! I would!
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 19 (January 30, 1994). Elders, who was U. S. Surgeon General at the time, was a passionate advocate of the controversial practice of providing contraceptives to teenagers. This was her reaction to being contemptuously nicknamed the "condom queen" by the Traditional Values Coalition, a conservative lobbying organization.
  • 4.
    ... you have to keep fighting them off and realize that nobody would be interested in attacking you personally unless you were trying to do some things that are bothering them.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 19 (January 30, 1994). Elders, who was U. S. Surgeon General at the time, was commenting on the "personal attacks" she and President Bill Clinton were experiencing. She had been criticized for her 28- year-old son's arrest for selling cocaine. The President had been repeatedly attacked for alleged adultery and, more recently, for possible ethical violations related to his and the First Lady's investments; also, his brother had suffered from cocaine addiction.
  • 5.
    ... black women have always found that in the social order of things we're the least likely to be believed—by anyone.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 18 (January 30, 1994). Reflecting on the treatment of Anita Hill, an African American attorney and law school professor who accused Judge Clarence Thomas, also African American and then a U. S. Supreme Court nominee, of sexual harassment when she had worked for him some years earlier. Hill was ridiculed by several Senators during Thomas's confirmation hearings. Ultimately, Thomas was appointed to the Court.

    Read more quotations about / on: black, women
  • 6.
    Judge Thomas was a man who had used the system to get where he wanted to be, but then felt that everyone else should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 18 (January 30, 1994). On Judge Clarence Thomas, the second African American U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Elders was the second African American U. S. Surgeon General. Thomas, a conservative, opposed many liberal programs that were supported by most African Americans—including affirmative action, which once had benefitted him.
  • 7.
    ... given a choice between hearing my daughter say "I'm pregnant" or "I used a condom," most mothers would get up in the middle of the night and buy them herself.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and medical educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General. As quoted in the New York Times, p. 6 (July 24, 1993). Testifying before the U.S. Senate's Labor and Human Resources Committee following her designation by President Clinton as his candidate for Surgeon General. Elders was explaining her support for sex education in the schools.

    Read more quotations about / on: daughter, night
  • 8.
    I came there as prime steak and now I feel like low-grade hamburger.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and medical educator; first woman (and second African American), Surgeon General. As quoted in Newsweek magazine, p. 17 (September 20, 1993). On what she thought of Washington, DC, where she had come from her native Arkansas to be Surgeon General. She was sharply criticized throughout her tenure and in 1994 was dismissed by President Bill Clinton.
  • 9.
    We really need to get over this love affair with the fetus and start worrying about children.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and educator; first woman (and second African American) Surgeon General of the United States. As quoted in the New York Times Magazine, p. 19 (January 30, 1994). Elders, who was U. S. Surgeon General at the time, was discussing the anti-abortion movement and the effects of teenagers' unwanted pregnancies on the teenagers themselves.

    Read more quotations about / on: children, love
  • 10.
    ... abortion opponents love little babies as long as they are in somebody else's uterus.
    Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933), U.S. pediatrician and medical educator; first woman, and second African American, Surgeon General. As quoted in the New York Times, p. A14 (December 31, 1993). Elders said this c. 1990.

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