Justina Ford grew up and received her medical education in Illinois. She worked as a physician in Alabama in 1900, specializing in gynecology, pediatrics and obstetrics. However, it was not easy to be a doctor, a woman and African-American, simultaneously in the early twentieth-century. Ford decided to move to Denver in 1902, because she believed Denver to be more liberal in racial matters than other cities.
Ford failed to receive membership of the American Medical Association because the Colorado Medical Society did not accept African-Americans in the early 1900s. Thus, she and other black doctors were not accredited at Denver hospitals. Ford came to assist mostly immigrant and minority patients and by the time of her death, she could converse in seven different languages. Specializing in obstetrics, she was able to provide home births to immigrants and minorities, who were not even allowed in Colorado hospitals. She usually was paid with little or no cash. Instead, she was offered goods and services by her patients. She was known as the “Lady Doctor”, who would never turn away a patient. There are even stories of Ford helping her patients and their families by providing them with food, coal and blankets.
Ford is in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and there is the Justina Ford Medical Society at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Her legacy remains through the Ford Warren Public Library and the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center, which is in her former home. The house was relocated to its present-day site in 1981.