Dr. Julius B. Richmond (1916-2008)
Dr. Julius Benjamin Richmond was born in Chicago on September 26, 1916. During the Great Depression, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana, and earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in 1939. Following an internship, he completed pediatric residencies at Chicago's Municipal Contagious Disease Hospital and Cook County Hospital. In 1942, Dr. Richmond volunteered for World War II and served in the Army Air Corps until 1946. He returned to the University of Illinois and rose to the rank of Professor of Pediatrics. In 1953, he became Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and, in 1965, Dean at SUNY College of Medicine.
Dr. Richmond was trained in pediatrics and child development and was a pioneer in introducing psychosocial development into pediatric education, research, and services. His work with Dr. Bettye Caldwell on the development of young children growing up in poverty led to his appointment in 1965 as the first director of the national Head Start program. His work leading up to Head Start was inspired by the US Supreme Court's 1954 ruling that desegregated public schools, Brown v. Board of Education. Dr. Richmond and a colleague at what is now the State University of New York Upstate Medical University set out to document how poverty threatened the psychosocial development of young children.
According to a 1981 oral history, Dr. Richmond said he and Dr. Caldwell noticed that all children seemed to develop at the same pace in their first year of life, but poor children's advancement lagged as they started using language and exploring their surroundings. With early intervention in a stimulating environment, Dr. Richmond and Caldwell found the decline could be prevented.Dr. Richmond's work caught the eye of Sargent Shriver, who was appointed to lead the new Office of Economic Opportunity in 1964. Recruited to the OEO, Dr. Richmond used demonstration grants to launch Head Start in 1965 and enrolled 500,000 children in 2,700 communities within six months. The following year, Congress authorized Head Start as a year-round program. As Director of Health Affairs within the Office of Economic Opportunity, the agency responsible for administering most of President Johnson's War on Poverty, Dr. Richmond also helped create the Neighborhood Health Centers, which brought together economic development and local oversight for health delivery services.
Dr. Richmond joined the Harvard Faculty in 1971 as Professor of Child Psychiatry and Human Development and soon became Chair of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at Harvard Medical School. From 1977 to 1981, Dr. Richmond served as President Carter's Assistant Secretary for Health and as US Surgeon General. In this role, he established quantitative health goals for the nation for the next decade by issuing the first "Healthy People" report, a practice that has since been institutionalized by the US Public Health Service. As Surgeon General, Dr. Richmond reinvigorated tobacco control efforts through the release of the 1979 Surgeon General's Report presenting overwhelming scientific evidence of the multiple harms of smoking.
In 1981, Dr. Richmond returned to Harvard as the John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Division of Health Policy Research and Education. From 1987 to 1993, he served as Chairperson of the steering committee of the Forum on the Future of Children and Families of the National Academy of Sciences.
After retiring in 1988, Dr. Richmond maintained a vigorous pace as John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy Emeritus, mentoring students and colleagues, teaching, and writing. He served as an expert witness in several historic class-action litigations against the tobacco industry and served as founding Chair of the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) Medical Advisory Board. FAMRI, a not-for-profit medical research foundation, was established as a result of a class action suit brought by attorneys Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt against the tobacco industry on behalf of non-smoking flight attendants exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in airline cabins.
Impact on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Dr. Richmond was the founding chair of the AAP Section on Community Pediatrics. He was also chair of the AAP Section on Child Development, the AAP Committee on Scientific Meetings, and was on the editorial board of Pediatrics. Dr. Richmond was a charter member of the Tomorrow's Children Endowment and also received the Academy's Excellence in Public Service Award in 1990.
The Academy, together with FAMRI, named the AAP Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence in honor of Dr. Richmond in 2006. The center is dedicated to eliminating children's exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke and honors Dr. Richmond's commitment to health promotion and disease prevention.