While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


John S. Gray III

EDWARDS, MARTIN LUTHER (1900–1970). 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.


Houston Chronicle, April 26, 1970. Texas Medicine, July 1970. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, John S. Gray III, "EDWARDS, MARTIN LUTHER," accessed August 14, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fed18.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on June 4, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...