Miller, Dr. Earl V. (1923-2005)

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 3/27/2005
  • Essay 7284
Dr. Earl V. Miller was the first African American urologist in Washington and the first west of the Mississippi. He was also a civil rights activist, and was honored in 1989 by the Black Heritage Society of Washington State as a black pioneer in the field.

Education and Training

He was born in Natchez, Mississippi, to Bertha and Frazee Miller. He received his B.A. degree from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1943, joined the Army Specialized Training Program at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee, and received his M.D. degree in 1947. He served his internship at St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He practiced general medicine in Columbus, Georgia, for seven years and then decided to become a surgeon. His surgical residencies were at Tuskeegee Institute and Meharry Medical College. Specializing further, because, as he said, "I fell in love with the cystoscope," he completed his training in urology at the University of Iowa (Mary T. Henry interview).

Seattle Practice of Urology

In 1959, Dr. Miller came to Seattle and opened his practice in the Stimson Building, later moving to the Medical Dental Building. During his first year in Seattle he was chief of urology at Harborview Hospital. He was also Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington and associated with Swedish, Cabrini, Providence, and Doctors hospitals before retiring in 1993.

He was a member of the Board of Urology, the American Urological Association, the National Medical Association, the International College of Surgeons, and the King County Medical Association. A contributor to professional journals, he also delivered several papers on urology before the National Medical Association.

Civil Rights

While living in Georgia, and before the civil rights movement, he was active as a leader in voter registration, in seeking equality in schools, and in desegregation of the city's golf courses.

When they arrived in Seattle in 1959, Dr. Miller and his family were refused housing in neighborhoods outside Seattle's Central Area, including Mount Baker, Queen Anne, and Rainier Beach. This experience motivated his involvement in Seattle's civil rights movement.

During the 1960s, Dr. Miller was a force in the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He was cited as being one of the most influential African Americans in the movement.

After a rally in Olympia for an open housing bill, which eventually failed, it was his statement which appeared in the NAACP newsletter in 1961 -- "License plates should read Washington -- State of Segregated Housing and Schools."

Along with the philanthropist and civic leader Sidney Gerber and with Jim Kimbrough, he served on the board of Harmony Homes, an integrated housing venture. At the memorial held at Temple de Hirsh for Sidney Gerber, who was killed in a plane crash along with Wing Luke in 1965, Dr. Miller was a principal speaker.

Prior to the voluntary transfer program in Seattle Public Schools, he was appointed to serve on the Equal Education Opportunity Committee, the first citizen's committee formed by the school administration to deal with the segregation issue.

Family Life

Dr. Miller was the father of five children and the husband of Dr. Rosalie R. Miller, the first black woman dentist in the state. His eldest daughter has written: "He was a complex, multifaceted man who had many gifts ..." He was a connoisseur and collector of wine, an avid reader of history, a scientist, and a dedicated practitioner of medicine.

Sources: Mary T. Henry interview of Dr. Earl V. Miller, 1989; Eulogy by Miriam Miller, February 4, 2005; Christine Frey, "Doctor was Seattle's First Black Urologist," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 1, 2005; Ray Rivera, "Physician Was Also Civil-rights Activist," The Seattle Times, February 1, 2005.

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