If there was ever any question about racism in the Seventh-day Adventist church, one only has to look at the most recent Visitor, the magazine for Seventh-day Adventists in my union. The cover story is about Lucy Byard, a Black woman who converted to Adventism at the age of 25 in 1902. She was one of only five Black women who pioneered the Adventist work in New York City. As an avid musician and cook, she entertained many great African-American Adventist pioneers, according to Dr. Benjamin Baker.
But in her mid-60s, Byard developed liver cancer. As she and her husband James considered which hospital to admit her to, they decided to go to the Washington Sanitarium in Takoma Park, Maryland, and they were approved ahead of time. When they arrived, though, they were turned away because they were Black. Before this, the hospital had allowed a few Black patients to be admitted, but only if they could be treated in the hospital basement by off-duty staff. The Byards were then sent to the Freedman’s Hospital, now Howard University Hospital, which served Black people. The hospital later said they didn’t realize the Byards were Black when they agreed to accept them.