Celebrating African Americans in Radiology Technology

HealthcareFebruary 01, 2023

From left to right: William Edward Allen, Jr., Myra Adele Logan, Rose M. Pegues-Perkins.

In celebration of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at notable African-Americans in the field of radiologic technology. Like any medical field, radiology includes its share of Black pioneers who made critical contributions to the profession, combatting racial barriers along the way. Here are three radiologic technologist trailblazers we should know about. 

William Edward Allen, Jr. (1903-1981) is considered to be the first African-American certified X-ray technician. As a radiologist, teacher, and researcher, he helped shape radiology as a field in the 1930s when it was first developing. He also worked relentlessly for increased access to medical education for African-American students. He created one of the first residencies in radiology in the 1930s for underrepresented students at the Homer G Phillips Hospital, the city’s first Black-operated hospital, established in 1937. Over time, that program graduated more than 200 Black radiographers, nuclear medicine technologists, and radiation therapists. Allen was a man dedicated to breaking barriers. He was the first African-American to receive the Gold Medal from the American College of Radiology.

Myra Adele Logan (1908-1977) was known as a pioneering surgeon but also played a role in X-ray technology. Famously, Logan was the first woman to perform open-heart surgery in 1943 back when it was in its medical infancy. She was also the first African-American woman to join the American College of Surgeons. In the field of X-ray technology, she tirelessly researched early detection methods for breast cancer and developed a more accurate X-ray process that was able to detect different densities of tissue. That led to better tumor detection. Her contributions to X-ray technology have been saving lives ever since.

Rose M. Pegues-Perkins (1913-1992) benefited from William Allen’s tireless advocacy for Black students’ access to education. A nurse in St. Louis at the same time Allen worked there, Pegues-Perkins enrolled in Allen’s radiologic technologist program and trained under him to become one of the first Black X-ray technicians. After she completed her education, she lobbied to be able to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam. She met with resistance, but she finally succeeded in taking and passing the exam. She went on to a 41-year career in radiotechnology in the St. Louis area.  

Inspired? If you want to explore careers in radiologic technology, Fortis offers a program in a number of campus locations, including a brand-new program at Fortis College in Smyrna, GA which just had its first rad tech class start. Click here to learn more about it, or call us at (855) 436-7847 to speak to an admissions advisor to find out how Fortis can help get the education for a career in radiology.