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To Bear Fruit For Our Race College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Dr. Benjamin Jesse Covington

Photo of  Dr. Benjamin Jesse Covington

Dr. Benjamin Jesse Covington, c. 1920s. (Courtesy of Riverside General Hospital and Drs. Levi V. and Eula Perry.)

Photo of Dr. Benjamin Covington

Dr. Benjamin Jesse Covington, c. 1950s.

Dr. Benjamin Jesse Covington was born in 1869 near Marlin, Texas. The son of former slaves, Ben and Georgiana Covington, he graduated from Hearne Baptist Academy in 1892. After graduation, he taught at a local school near his hometown. However, he soon quit his job due to the hostility of some white people within the community, who felt that he earned too much as a black man.

Dr. Covington soon enrolled at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated in 1900 and married Miss Jennie Bell Murphy Gonzales two years later. Before they moved to Houston permanently in 1903, Dr. Covington practiced general medicine in Wharton, Texas, for one year and then in Yoakum, Texas, for two years.

Once in Houston Dr. Covington opened a ten-bed hospital on Canal Street and was fondly known as the “Dean of Physicians” in the local black community. The ten-bed hospital soon became overcrowded which led Dr. Covington, along with four other physicians, to build Union Hospital in the Fourth Ward.

In 1926, Dr. Covington and other black physicians successfully combined to build a larger facility. The Houston Negro Hospital, as it was known, later became Riverside General Hospital.

Dr. Covington also was active in Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, serving as secretary-treasurer for 10 years before he was installed as president in 1920.

Dr. Covington was involved in various civic organizations. His home church was the Antioch Baptist Church. He was also a member of the Omega fraternity, Young Men’s Christian Association, Masonic Lodge, and Business and Professional Men’s Club.

Dr. Covington died on July 21, 1961 and was buried in Paradise Cemetery. He practiced medicine in Houston for fifty-eight years.

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