PHOENIX — Dr. Winston Hackett was a pioneer in healthcare. He may have been born in Texas, but he is a part of Arizona’s history. Dr. Hackett was the first African American doctor in the state.
ABC15 talked with Anthony Pratcher with Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University about his incredible life.
Pratcher explained that Dr. Hackett was “one of the premiere physicians. He treated people of all races, all backgrounds.”
Hackett was born in Texas in 1881 and attended Tuskegee University in Alabama before medical school at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee.
“He moved to Arizona in 1916, allegedly with only 75 cents in his pocket, and worked as a cotton picker until he gained enough money so he could purchase his medical license,” Pratcher explained.
Arizona was segregated at the time and African Americans were often denied or received delayed health care, only after white patients were seen.
Clottee Hammons of Emancipation Arts says in 1922, Dr. Hackett opened the Booker T. Washington Memorial Hospital with his wife Ayra, located at the corner of 14th and Jefferson streets in Phoenix. The building was the home of former Territorial Governor Joseph Kibbey.
“His wife, Ayra Hammonds Hackett, would help deliver these babies,” Hammons said.
“It was one of the best hospitals for African Americans in the western United States,” Pratcher added. The Hackett’s home was also located nearby.
Dr. Hackett had built six cottages to help treat tuberculosis patients. Two of those cottages are still standing off Washington Street.
Sadly, Ayra died in 1932 after she developed pneumonia. Pratcher says Dr. Hackett went blind in 1943 and had to shut the hospital down.
But Dr. Hackett would continue to help.
During World War II he used the hospital building to house Black servicemen. It was known as the Winston Inn.
The Hacketts had only one daughter, Winstona, who was a teacher in Phoenix for decades. She sadly passed away in 2017, but she shared her parents’ legacy throughout her life.
The hospital and Hackett home have since been torn down. Only an empty lot sits at the corner of 14th and Jefferson streets, but the Hacketts’ legacy echoes throughout the community.
“Just because it’s not something we may see because of the fact it’s been demolished, doesn’t mean it’s not here,” Pratcher said.