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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Retired Black Doctor’s Memoir “Are You a N****r or a Doctor?” Details Growing Up Amid Segregation and Personal Challenges

Otto Stallworth Jr.

Nationwide — Otto E. Stallworth, Jr. is a retired medical doctor. His specialty was anesthesiology and he had practiced for over forty-five years and penned his memoir during the last four years. After a minor dispute with his literary agent, Stallworth took the liberty to self-publish his manuscript. The book is entitled Are You A N****r Or A Doctor? A Memoir.

Born in 1945, Stallworth earned his medical degree at the age of 24, and in 1970, he became licensed in the states of Georgia, California, and Nevada. At age 29, he became Chief of Anesthesiology at Hawthorne Community Hospital, which later became the Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center in Hawthorne, California.

In the second month of his internship at an Ohio hospital, an 80-year-old white patient, who was a retired police chief of a small town, suffering from dementia, looked up at Dr. Stallworth in his confusion and asked, “Are you a nigger or a doctor?” That very telling encounter was truly indicative of the times. How Dr. Stallworth responded to that question speaks to the heart of his story, making it a fitting title for his memoir.

But, for the most part, Are You A N****r Or A Doctor? is a coming-of-age story that spans the latter half of the 21st Century, giving readers a bird’s eye view of one Black man’s unique experiences in America on the path to becoming a medical doctor.

Dr. Stallworth grew up in Lincoln Park, a “colored” neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, during the 1940s through the early 1960s, at a time when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described Birmingham, Alabama, as “the most segregated city in the United States.” He recalls the racial disparities, how segregation affected him, and his curiosity in the 1950s about whether White-only water fountains and Colored water had the same flavor. Stallworth crossed the Alabama state line for the first time at age 16 to attend college. In a string of vignettes, Stallworth chronicles his life experiences from childhood curiosity about WHITE ONLY water fountains to starting college as a freshman at Howard University as a sixteen-year-old and pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

In the memoir, Dr. Stallworth admits that college life and partying at Howard University could have derailed his ambitions were it not for Kappa Alpha Psi members. He shares that his “big brothers” in the Kappa fraternity called him out for not being serious enough about his studies to get accepted into medical school. This needling urged Stallworth to prioritize his coursework during his remaining years at Howard University and graduate on time with the Class of 1966. Stallworth shares in detail how members of Kappa Alpha Psi, who were honor students, later became the accountability partners that helped him meet the requirements for medical school and gain admission into Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

As a credible eyewitness to The Black Experience before, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Stallworth presents delightful storytelling, weaving insightful observations on racial issues, as disparities and atrocities of the times have impacted him indirectly and permeated his convictions, such as the 1972 New York Times reporting of the decades-long Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

He has crossed paths with history-makers and, in some instances, made history himself, like his paper route at age 8, delivering JET Magazine thanks to his parents’ close friendship with the owners of Johnson Publications. Stallworth tells of his connection to the four little girls murdered in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church. Dr. Stallworth also shares personal victories, such as when he and a friend discovered, managed, and secured a record deal for the first Black group in the Grammys’ history to win the Best New Artist award.

The arc of Dr. Stallworth’s story offers insight into what it was like to be Black, trying to build a life and find love while pushing past the racism of the 1960s to pursue a career in medicine during this era of segregation, civil unrest, free love, and open culture of experimental drugs.

In 2018, award-winning actress and author Denise Nicholas invited Dr. Stallworth to join her Longwood Writers’ Workshop. This workshop allowed him to organize his writings and publish a memoir that can serve as a staple that bridges the gap between generations and inspires students aspiring to become medical professionals.

In addition to his medical degree, he has earned an MBA and launched several business enterprises, including a foundation sponsoring full, four-year scholarships to his alma maters, Howard University in Washington, DC and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, both of which are HBCUs. Stallworth launched the Stallworth OhYes! Foundation in 2022. The 501(c)(3) offers scholarships to Black students attending Howard University or Meharry Medical College. While other scholarships focus on students with outstanding academic performance, this scholarship funds students who demonstrate financial need. Dr. Stallworth’s goal is to award many more scholarships through the proceeds of this memoir.

For more information about the memoir and the Stallworth OhYes! Foundation, visit his official website at OttoEStallworthJrMD.com

“A fascinating, moving memoir that focuses on one of the most tempestuous periods in American history.” — Kirkus Reviews

Are You A N****r Or A Doctor? is available in paperback (ISBN: 978-1667871110, 286 pages), sold on the author’s website and through online marketplaces everywhere, including Amazon, Apple Books, Bookbaby Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, and Target.

Notes to Editors:
Author Dr. Otto E. Stallworth is currently scheduling book signings, live bookings, and ‘virtual’ public readings via Zoom for libraries, churches, high schools, colleges, and cultural institutions. For press and media inquiries, promotional photos, and interviews, please email Publicity Services at sunnyoes@mac.com

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