Chancellor's Communique

Celebrating the Lives and Legacies of Pioneers in Medicine, 2-22-21


With today’s announcement of the establishment of the Charles J. Blackwood, MD, Endowed Memorial Scholarship at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, we celebrate the achievements and legacy of the CU School of Medicine’s first Black graduate.


Dr. Charles Blackwood graduated in the top 10 of his class at the CU School of Medicine in 1947, after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from CU Boulder. A trailblazer in the field, he stands as a role model for those who have followed, and his legacy will live on as future medical professionals benefit from this source of support to fulfill their dreams. His story, and those of other pioneers throughout our history, are inspiring.


Another such pioneer is “Zippy” Zipporah Parks Hammond, who just one year before Dr. Blackwood and 75 years ago this year became the first Black graduate of the CU College of Nursing. Zippy was the only African American in her class of 30 women, and, despite the obstacles she faced,  pursued her education with determination and focus. To honor Zippy’s memory, her sons partnered with the college to create a scholarship in her name that is helping students overcome financial challenges to earn their nursing degrees.


Both Blackwood and Parks Hammond led careers marked by courage, selflessness and generosity, going on to many more “firsts” after graduation. Through their commitment, these leaders opened doors previously closed to many, and blazed trails for generations of future leaders in medicine and health to follow. 

We are honored to help tell their stories, and grateful for the tremendous support their lives and legacies have inspired among our community. Our university is enriched by a diverse student body of future healthcare leaders who will transform medicine in countless ways, and pioneers like Charles Blackwood and Zipporah Parks Hammond will continue to make it possible for more bright, driven students to forge their own paths.

Don Elliman
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