Black Women in Gadsden County

GADSDEN, FL (February 2018) – History is often reduced to a handful of memorable moments and events.  In Black history, those events often include courageous stories like The Underground Railroad and historic moments like the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  But these are only a few of the significant and important events to know and remember, particularly when it comes to the African-American experience overall, and more so when it comes to Black Women in Gadsden County, Florida where generations labored on plantations or as domestic workers during the shade tobacco era.

Black women have played many important roles in Florida’s history, particularly as key figures in the struggle for civil rights. But they have also made major contributions to the arts, to science, civil society, and to the medical community.  Being a woman is hard enough, but being a black woman meant you had to fight for your rights twice over, and that deserves some serious respect. One such respected figure is Dr. Jessie Furlow who graduated from Lane College in 1971, and received her M.D. from the University of Rochester in 1975.

In June 2017, The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners allocated funds for a public mural to be painted on a County building in downtown Quincy, and since, visitors from all over the nation have traveled to witness this historic piece of art that is located at 9 Jefferson Street. The mural depicts three historic African American physicians from Gadsden County, one of which is Dr. Jessie Furlow who left an indelible mark on her community for her efforts and contributions as a doctor, healer and educator. As keepers of the Hippocratic Oath, she provided care and quality of life for all in need, regardless of status and resources.

Nobody would argue that Dr. Jessie Furlow was a pillar in the Gadsden County Florida community; a woman who spent years treating indigent patients, sometimes at little or no cost. This small town doctor with a heart of gold seemed to be sent by God on a mission to improve the health of not only the black community, but all who were in need. As well it was never odd to see Dr. Furlow do more than practice medicine as she spent countless hours helping build habitat homes and worked in various charitable organizations. She's was a people person.

Dr. Furlow practiced medicine in Gadsden County for 24 years. Among many contributions, Dr. Furlow served as the vice-chair of the Florida Commission on Minority Health, was on the board for Shanks High School's health clinic, and as a member of Florida State University’s Board of Trustees, she provided early assistance in launching Florida State University’s College of Medicine. The North Florida Medical Center Campus in Gadsden County bears her name for her dedication to serving the citizens of Gadsden.

Less than half an hour from the hustle and bustle of the Florida State Capital, life in Gadsden County is decidedly more laid-back, offering the best of both worlds. There is a quality of life in Gadsden that combines the best of the past with the convenience of the present. Rolling hills, rich history, abundant recreational opportunities, a thriving arts culture community and historical architecture combine to make Gadsden an interesting and beautiful place to visit and to live. Get outdoors and find your adventure.  For more information on Gadsden County you can visit