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Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Dr. Ivorite Larimer Scruggs 1890 - 1974

This biography was originally released on August 15, 2022 as a part of our on going series titled: Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Written by Madison Matthews on the Staff of The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission

Dr. Ivorite Larimer Scruggs was born August 4, 1890 in Mississippi to his parents James and Kayte Scruggs. Scruggs attended Howard University where he received his BA degree in 1915 and his medical degree in 1919. While attending Howard University he was a charter member and the first national vice president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity where he secured the first Frat house in 1914. During his time at the Fraternity, Scruggs wrote the lyrics of the Fraternity hymn in 1914 and from 1917 to1919 he became the Fraternities International President.
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Scruggs then moved to Buffalo, New York with his wife Ruth Tappe in 1921. Once Scruggs moved to Buffalo,  he established his very own private practice in 1924 until he retired in 1969. He also worked on the medical staff of Sisters Columbus and Our Lady of Victory Hospitals. He then became the first black school physician in 1924 through 1945. Scruggs was the founder of the Michigan Avenue YMCA to bring African Americans together in the community which was very important since there weren't as many community centers for black people as there were for white people in the early 1920s. He was also the first black person in the United States to be elected as the board of directors of a Metropolitan YMCA. In 1927, he was one of the founding members of the Buffalo Urban League. Then for 19 years he was the president of the annual Negro Health Week Observance and he was the director of the Erie County Unit of the American Cancer Society. He was also chaired the Negro Health Week Committee in 1945 where they arranged for mass x-ray screening for tuberculosis.. 

Along with Dr. Scruggs' medical accomplishments, he purchased the largest piece of real estate owned by a black person in Buffalo, New York. Which made him the first black person named to the city’s Board of Redevelopment in 1959 where he was a leader in the fight against rundown housing. In 1927, Scruggs was named as one of the founders of Bigger and Better Negro Business Week. Where he was orthodoxed “to promote fellowship among Negro business, increase patronage on the part of the Negro buying public in Negro buiness enterprises and to instill the principles of thrirft in Negro children.” Then in 1961 he was awarded the Buffalo’s Good Neighbor Award. As well as being honored for his service to the community and medicine by the Upstate Medical Alliance in 1970.


Sadly, Dr. Ivorite Larimer Scruggs died on April 6, 1974 at 83 years old and he was buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetery. 

Thank you to our sources:

We want to give a special thanks to  Uncrowned Community Builders for providing the information for this story. Further readings on Dr. Ivorite Larimer Scruggs are available on their websites.

If you have additional resources about Dr. Ivorite Larimer Scruggs, please email us to let us know!

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