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A Pillar in the Durham Community

African American surgeon black and white photo

The Lincoln Community Health Center is a preventive and primary health care facility serving the Durham community since September 1971. The health center was founded by former Forest resident Dr. Charles DeWitt Watts, the first African American board certified surgeon in North Carolina and a leader in health care access.

In the mid-1970s, when Lincoln hospital closed, Dr. Watts recognized that the patients he treated would still need a facility for their primary health care needs. The Lincoln Community Health Center emerged from Dr. Watts and others’ desire to treat a low income, underserved population in the community where they lived and worked.

Today, Dr. Watts’ legacy continues to live on, not only in the thriving Lincoln Community Health Center, but also in the medical community at large. As a pillar in his community, Dr. Watts cleared the way for other African American doctors in the area and advocated for certification for African American medical students. Dr. Watts opened his own private practice in general surgery in Durham in 1950, at a time when African Americans had limited access to medical services, so he understood clearly the obstacles young African American doctors would face.

As a community, the Forest was excited to tour the Lincoln Community Health Center in the month of March and learn more about the incredible work this facility is doing in Durham. Additionally we enjoyed reminiscing about Dr. Watts and the timeless contributions he made spanning health care, civil rights, and beyond.


Learn more about Dr. Watts and his impact here.

Learn more about the Lincoln Community Health Center here.

Photo Courtesy of BCBSNC
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