Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington
August Nathaniel Lushington, (1 August 1869 - 12 February 1939), became the first African American to earn Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M) at the University of Pennsylvania in 1897. He practiced about two years in Philadelphia and worked as an instructor in Veterinary Sanitation and Hygiene at Bell Mead Industrial and Agricultural College at Rock Castle, West Virginia. Later, he practiced for much of his career life in very segregated Lynchburg, Virginia, where he experienced unfair treatment, but he finally earned a reputation as a superior practitioner in the community. He had memberships in the Statistical reporter to the Bureau of Animal Industry, Federal Department Agriculture, and the Lychburg Chamber of Commerce.
Early life and education
Augustus Nathaniel Lushington was born 1 August 1869 in Trinidad. As a young child his paternal Grandfather from DR Congo, was brought to Trinidad as a slave to work at the sugar plantation on the island, and his father, William, worked as a butcher, who raised produce for sale at market and did farm work.
Lushington attended teacher-training school and worked for several years in a Trinidadian classroom. Despite
his very young age he was promoted to the rank of principal. But, apparently restless in spirit, he left Trinidad
for nearby Venezuela, where he worked in the town of La Guayra for a British-owned railroad as clerk, general
timekeeper, and paymaster.
That adventure lasted for about three years. Lushington returned to his family in Trinidad but found that
opportunities were scarce in the island's labor market, crowded with successive waves of Indian and Chinese
immigrants. In 1889 he set off for the United States, landing in New York City and making his way to
Binghamton, New York, where he had some friends.
His college education started when he married his wife Elizabeth Govino Hubert from Antigua in January 1890. Her West Indian friends helped Augustus enroll in Cornell University to study Agriculture. He graduated with a degree in Agriculture in 1894.
Since there was no work for him at the time he left the West Indies and left for another education. He started another education at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school. Finished the program in three years. When he graduated he was the only African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1897. When students walk into the University of Pennsylvania the first thing they see is a portrait of Augustus Lushington. Lusington's portrait hangs at the main entrance of the main building.
Augustus began his career of being a veterinarian treating farm animals. He did most of his work out of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he would walk miles to treat sick animals in farm country. Lushington set up a veterinary practice in Philadelphia but remained there for only two years. Lushington seems to have been drawn southward, despite the worsening racial climate in the southern states, by a teaching job in veterinary sanitation at Bell Mead Industrial and Agricultural College in Rock Castle, Virginia.
Deciding to return to his veterinary practice, he realized that south-central Virginia offered, from a veterinarian's point of view, an ideal environment, with large numbers of livestock grazing on the area's rolling hills. Finding that there was only one other veterinarian in Lynchburg, Lushington opened his practice there. Since there were not many pets at the time he decided to treat farm animals. The farms were important because at this time, most veterinarians treated large animals. House pets existed, but in a far less wealthy era when gourmet cat food was unknown, most people could not afford to spend large amounts of money on their ailments. Lushington treated cows, horses, and other livestock, often walking for miles through the woods from Lynchburg to reach the farms where his services were needed. His philosophy, according to Arthur Bunyan Caldwell's History of the American Negro: Virginia Edition, was that "the first essential to progress is a better understanding between the best elements of the two races. This, he believes, would lead to closer and more harmonious relationships; mutual confidence would grow, and both races would gain as all advanced toward better citizen-ship." In Virginia, however, Lushington experienced neither harmonious relationships nor good citizenship. White farmers often availed themselves of his services but then refused to pay him—and in the repressive atmosphere of the South in the early 1900s, Lushington had neither the option of taking legal action nor even the practical right to refuse services to deadbeats
He and his wife had three daughters. One daughter, Drucilla Moultrie, taught in Lynchburg schools for about fifty years. Another daughter, Bernetta Parks, worked for Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A third daughter, Christina, is
mentioned in Lushington's entry in the Virginia edition of the History of the American Negro; but no other
information is known about her. Two other children did not survive to adulthood. Lushington set up a
veterinary practice in Philadelphia but remained there for only two years.
Lushington died on 12 February 1939, aged 69.