In 1970 a dental student named Rueben Warren wrote a letter to Dr. James Holly, III (President of NDA) expressing his desire to start a “student chapter of the NDA”. In his letter, Dr. Warren expressed concern for the welfare of African American dental students who he felt were voiceless and had no support, guidance, or connection to anyone. He asked permission to form a student chapter of the NDA at Meharry Medical College. Meharry was one of two historically black institutions that educated African American dentists. Dr. Holley approved the concept for the formation of a student group at Meharry. The foundations that Dr. Warren established for SNDA were further continued by Lewis Proffitt, an African-American dental student from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Proffitt, compiled, edited, and presented the first SNDA constitution. Dr. Proffitt was elected the first national president of the SNDA, and the first constitution was ratified under his leadership.
At that time, it was agreed upon that there should be six basic objectives of the SNDA. These objectives were:
- To promote and encourage an increase in minority enrollment in all dental schools
- To be committed to the improvement of dental health care delivery to all disadvantaged people
- To provide time and skill in assisting those programs within the greater community which required some measure of dental expertise
- To contribute to the welfare of dental students
- To educate and involve its members in the social, moral, and ethical obligations of the profession of dentistry
To promote a viable academic and social environment that is conducive to the mental health of minority students. There are truly no limits for what SNDA can and will become. There are no limits to what role SNDA members will play in shaping the future of the dental profession. Begun in the aftermath of a great Civil Rights Movement the mission of SNDA remains unchanged today and even into the future. The Student National Dental Association continues to rise to the occasion as the key student voice in matters of oral health for the underserved and the education of minority oral health care professionals throughout the world. The best is truly yet to come…