The Emory School of Medicine formally apologized to a doctor on Thursday, 62 years after denying his application because he is Black.

When Marion G. Hood applied to Emory’s medical school in 1959, the director of admissions wrote him a letter rejecting him because of his race and saying the school would return his application fee. The school would accept its first Black student four years later in 1963, according to Emory University.

More than six decades later, he received a letter sent in March from the school apologizing that they had not accepted him on the basis of his race, The New York Times reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Your rejection letter serves as a somber reminder that generations of talented young men and women were denied educational opportunities because of their race, and our society was denied their full potential,” said the letter, which was signed by Vikas P. Sukhatme, dean of the Emory University School of Medicine, according to the New York Times. 

“An apology does not undo our actions. It is an acknowledgment of the pain that was caused by our school, and an opportunity for us to share our regret directly with you,” the letter added.

In an event honoring Juneteenth on Thursday, the school invited Hood to share his story with students, faculty, and staff. During the event, the president of the Emory Student National Medical Association apologized to Hood and presented him with a plaque “in recognition of his tenacity and resilience in the quest to be a physician.” 

Cities and organizations have begun their own reckoning with their racial histories, with actions ranging from the removal of Confederate soldiers to starting initiatives geared around reparations for Black Americans. According to NPR, one of the more recent initiatives comes from a group of 11 mayors who have pledged to pay reparations to groups of Black residents within their cities.

The events coincide with Juneteenth, which recognizes the date in 1865 when the last remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas, were freed.