Celebrating the First 100

The “First 100 Dentists of Color” Celebration Brunch on Saturday, April 27, at Richmond’s Black History Museum and Cultural Center was a celebration of accomplishments, achievements and trailblazing where Erma Freeman (D.D.S.’77/D) was recognized as the school’s first black female graduate.

The “First 100” initiative paves the way for the “Next 100” through scholarships for students who are members of the VCU Chapter of the Student National Dental Association. Donors and friends involved with the initiative were celebrated at the event for their generous support of students and the school.

Darriel Cannon (D.D.S. ’19/D), the school’s first African American class president, shared his experiences and vision for the future of African Americans in the oral health profession.

The First 100 initiative is the major driver in the school’s efforts to provide scholarships, mentorship and fellowship for the “Next 100 Dentists of Color” and beyond.

The event was generously underwritten by DentaQuest, an oral health care company dedicated to advancing oral health for all.

To learn more about the First 100 initiative, contact Barbara Payton (B.S. ‘83/MC), director of development for leadership annual giving, at (804) 827-1537 or bpayton@vcu.edu.

Media Contact: Nan Johnson, director of communications, (804) 828-0324 or nljohnson@vcu.edu



Erma Freeman (D.D.S. ’77), center, accepts the First 100 Trailblazer Award from Dr. Olivia Croom (left) chief dental officer, DentaQuest, and David C. Sarrett, D.M.D., M.S., (right) dean of the VCU School of Dentistry.


Erma Freeman paved the way for other black female dentists who followed in her path. Left to right: Dr. Jacqueline Curl, Renita Randolph (D.D.S.’91/D), Dr. Shanail Allen, Dr. Audra Jones, Erma Freeman (D.D.S.’77/D), Tiffany Williams (M.S.D.’14/D), Dr. Sheilandice Holmes, Tonya Parris-Wilkins (D.D.S.’03/D), Dr. Lori Wilson.


Dr. Freeman and Darriel Cannon (D.D.S.’19/D). Cannon, four-time president of his D.D.S. class at VCU, is now preparing for his oral surgery residency at U.C.L.A.


William Nelson (D.D.S.’75/D), Mrs. Hardenia and Jim Watkins (D.D.S.’75/D) and Charles Johnson (D.D.S.’76/D) enjoy Richmond’s Black History Museum and Cultural Center in the city’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. Dr. Watkins was named the dental school’s Alumni Star in 2003 and received the Dr. Harry Lyons Outstanding Dental Alumnus award in 2009.

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