In the last two decades of the 19th century, following the Emancipation Proclamation, organized dentistry for African Americans was restricted to multi-professional groups. These groups were primarily small and composed of health care professionals living in the same community. Members of the groups were primarily comprised of physicians, pharmacists and usually a few dentists. Multi-professional groups served several purposes for black health care professional but specifically, afforded black dentists an opportunity to improve professional proficiency, promote public awareness of oral hygiene, enlighten public opinion about dentistry, and seek uniform, fair and just state and federal laws. These organizations not only provided the framework for the development of professionals, but also practical experience in shaping individuals into a cohesive group operating within a structure designed to achieve specific goals. Moreover, the professional groups were active in their communities and well-respected by the African American communities they served.