Martin Luther Edwards, black physician, was born on January 1, 1900, in Columbus, Mississippi, to Simon and Jemima (Williams) Edwards. He attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, and received a bachelor of science degree in 1926. He went on to get a master of science degree from Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois, in 1927 and a doctor of medicine degree from Meharry Medical College at Nashville, Tennessee, in 1931. After interning at Prairie View A&M College Hospital in Prairie View, Texas, in 1931–32, he began practice in Hawkins, Texas. He was college physician at Jarvis Christian College at Hawkins, where he served without salary for more than fifteen years. During this time he started the school's first health program.
From sometime during World War II until April 1970, Dr. Edwards was a medical examiner for a local selective-service board. He was the first black physician to hold full staff privileges at the Medical Center Hospital in Tyler. He wrote several scientific articles. He was a member of the Smith County Medical Society, the Texas Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. He served as secretary and president of the Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, president of the East Texas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, and vice president and member of the House of Delegates of the National Medical Association. He served as secretary to the board of Texas Southern University in Houston. In the late 1940s he was selected by Texas governor Beauford H. Jester as a member of the state's first biracial committee to seek solutions to various racial problems. Edwards was appointed to similar committees in the administrations of governors Allan Shivers and M. Price Daniel, Sr.
He was a member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Jarvis Christian College Church, Eastern Star Masonic Lodge, and Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He received the Omega Achievement Award from Omega Psi Phi in 1955. Edwards and his wife, Arzelia (Jones), formerly of Kansas City, Kansas, had four children. He died on April 22, 1970, in Tyler.
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Houston Chronicle, April 26, 1970. Texas Medicine, July 1970. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
John S. Gray III,
“Edwards, Martin Luther,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 02, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
January 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
May 29, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: