Dr. Sean Crawford, the owner Springfield, Illinois’ only Black-owned dental practicem proudly represents his community in a career field that isn’t necessarily popular among Black people.

When the entrepreneur held the grand opening of Crawford Family Dental, he became the first Black dentist in Springfield to accomplish this milestone, The State-Journal Register reported. Now, one year later, he’s celebrating the first anniversary of his small business thriving. Growing up, the practitioner never pictured himself in his current profession as he leaned toward the sports route since he was an athlete.

“When I was a young kid they’d ask, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?'” Crawford told the publication. “And I never said dentist, but I never had a dentist who looked like me. I always like to be in public and speak to people as much as possible just so I may inspire someone.”

Although Crawford dreamed of being a sports lawyer or professional basketball player, his father advised him to have a backup plan after an injury in high school.

“I started thinking about how I always wanted to help people and always liked the medical field,” he said. “I associated for six years at another practice, and I had a desire to have my own practice and it was the perfect fit and the right time … so I took the leap.”

After working in the industry for several years, the Illinois native eventually began to yearn for more in addition to his desire to positively impact others. In 2023, he made a decision that would change the trajectory of his future as a dentist when he started executing his plans of opening a practice. He purchased the storefront location at 1900 E. Sangamon Ave.

“Most professions, either people of color or women could not do those jobs for many years,” Crawford said. “You have to see it. You have to be exposed to it to believe that’s something you want to do. You think a lot of times kids try to follow in their parents’ footsteps, so if you don’t have a parent who is a lawyer or physician, you never would think it or dream it.”

According to a 2022 report released by U.S. Dentist Demographics Dashboard, white Americans represented 68.4% of the workforce, whereas Black Americans only made up 3.8%, per the ADA Health Policy Institute.

Representation matters and Crawford wants to be at the forefront of change for his community members of color. The businessman wants his dental office to be a source of motivation for people of color in his local community and a resource that will reshape and diversify future Springfield business owners in dentistry.

“I would like to look back in 10, 20 years in Springfield and see 10 or 20 Black dentists, both men and women,” he said. “That we are diversifying our community.”