History of Doc Sistrunk: Broward’s first Black Doctor
February is a time for us to celebrate the life and work of Dr. James Franklin Sistrunk. Dr. Sistrunk was born in Midway, Florida (near Tallahassee) in 1891. He graduated from Meharry Medical College, in Nashville, Tennessee in 1919. He later served in World War I before relocating to Dunnellon, Florida to practice medicine.
Dr. Sistrunk moved to Fort Lauderdale in April, 1922. Although he was a qualified surgeon, he was not allowed to perform surgical procedures in white hospitals.
In 1938 he joined Dr. Von D. Mizell to establish Fort Lauderdale’s first medical facility for blacks, Provident Hospital. He is credited with delivering over 5,000 babies during his 44 years of practice. Throughout Broward County, Dr. Sistrunk would make house calls and assist those who were financially strained.
Northwest Sixth Street in Fort Lauderdale bears his name, “Sistrunk Boulevard.” In addition, a bridge over the north fork on Northwest Sixth Street is named the “J. F. Sistrunk Bridge.”
Dr. Sistrunk died on March 20, 1966. He is still honored today, every February, with The Sistrunk Festival which runs along the boulevard that bears his name, in the heart of Broward’s oldest black enclave, the Sistrunk district.