MOUNT VERNON — A nearly 200-year-old tradition of giving continues to be recognized with some local connections. Mount Vernon resident Ron Meharry was acknowledged for his family’s contributions recently when he attended the annual Meharry Medical College’s convocation and 125th anniversary gala of the Meharry School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tenn.
Having attended the convocation a few times in the past, Meharry’s visit this year was not complete without the chance to pose for photos with college officials next to a very interesting painting.
A painting hanging in the Meharry School of Dentistry shows Meharry’s abolitionist family members in 1826 when his great-great-uncle, Samuel Meharry, was taken in by a family of freed slaves in the border state of Kentucky. Samuel was a salt trader whose wagon slipped off the road and into a swamp. After the former slave family gave Meharry food and shelter, he told them, “I have no money, but when I can, I shall do something for your race.”
The Meharry family had originally funded what was the medical department at Central Tennessee College which formed in 1876. The initial gift was met with matching funds from the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church which allowed for the formation of the medical department. This later was chartered as Meharry Medical College in 1915 as the first medical school in the South for African-Americans. Today it is the largest private historically black institution in the U.S. dedicated to educating healthcare professionals and scientists.
“They really get a kick out of having somebody from the family generations later to be there,” said Meharry of his recent visit at the convocation.
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