Leonard Muse

Leonard Muse (1923–)

Arlington County

Leonard Muse grew up in Delray Beach, Florida, where he went to school and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943. A year later he decided to study pharmacy at Howard University, where he received his degree in 1948, when only about 60 African Americans across the country graduated with pharmaceutical degrees. While working in Washington, D.C., he was surprised to learn about the poor treatment African American patients often received at drugstores in nearby Arlington County, where they were allowed to use only the rear entrance to pick up prescriptions. In order to provide high-quality service to an underserved population, Muse and a fellow Howard graduate opened Green Valley Pharmacy in September 1952.

Located in Nauck, a historically African-American community, Green Valley Pharmacy sold general merchandise and offered a lunch counter with a soda fountain. Muse became its sole owner in 1955, and the pharmacy served as a vital community gathering place during a time of racial segregation. After the pharmacy suffered several instances of vandalism, Muse became a mentor to neighborhood youths, hiring them as employees and helping them save money for college. “Doc Muse” is known for his medical advice and generosity, often allowing customers in financial straits to buy their prescriptions on store credit, and he has inspired multiple generations to follow his example and pursue medical careers.

Arlington County’s Board of Supervisors acknowledged the significance of Muse’s community leadership when it designated Green Valley Pharmacy an Arlington Historic District in 2013.