Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Dr. Lydia Tura Wright 1922 - 2006

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. Lydia Tura Wright was born on May 5, 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana to her mother Parthenia Hickman Wright and her father Nathan who also had another daughter and twin sons. Wright’s mother, sister, and twin brother moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to reunite with their father who had fled out of Louisiana to escape lyniching. Wright grew up in a very educational family, her grandmother was a teacher, her mother graduated from the University of Cincinnati, her father graduated from the Tuskegee Institute, and her grandfather was one of the first black people to work in medicine in Cincinnati. With all this educational background, Wright attended the University of Cincinnati and the Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. While staying in Nashville, she attended the Meharry Medical College where she received her medical degree. Eventually she went to her residency in New York City where she met her husband Dr. Frank G. Evans and they got married in 1951, then they resided in Buffalo, New York. Over time Wright and Evans had two kids, Tamara and Frank Jr. and later on had two grandsons.

Once Dr. Wright moved to Buffalo, New York she became the first African American pediatrician and female physician in Buffalo. In spite of that, she received the Pediatrician of the Year Award.

Continuing Dr. Wright's career in Buffalo, New York, she was the first chosen black person to serve on the Buffalo Board of Education in May 1962 until 1967. Working on the Buffalo Board of Education, she was remembered for fighting for an all- black enrollment at Woodlawn Junior High School due to racial integration. So in remembrance of Wright’s hard work, the Common Council named the school building supposedly at Kensington Heights after Dr. Lydia Tura Wright on September 25, 2000. Now known as “PS 89 Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence”.

Alongside Dr. Wright’s education accomplishments, she worked on the board of the East Side Community Organization, Inc. (ESCO) to bring different races and cultures together throughout the community. She was also a member of the Committee for the Urban University in Downtown Buffalo. 

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Dr. Wright and her husband were both very active members of St. Philip's Episcopal Church. She worked on the Altar Guild, the Race Relations Committee of the Council of Churches, and was the first woman in the United States to be chosen to represent an Episcopal Bishop's standing committee.

Dr. Wright has also been credited with many credible awards such as the Red Jacket Award from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, the Barber G. Conable Award from the Citizens Council, and the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She was the first black person to receive the Red Jacket Award from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

Eventually Dr. Lydia Tura Wright died on October 23, 2006 and was later 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. Lydia Tura Wright are available on their websites.

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