As we find ourselves in Black History Month, it is important to recognize the outstanding contributions Black Nurses have made. Mary Seacole, Harriet Tubman, and Mary Eliza Mahoney are 3 people who championed the nursing profession.
Mary Seacole (1805- 1881)
When you think of the Crimean War, you usually think of Florence Nightingale. Of course, this fantastic nurse had a significant impact on caring for those injured in the war, but other nurses were doing whatever they could to help. One example of this is Mary Seacole.
This British- Jamaican nurse travelled worldwide, taking on the challenge of nursing those who were stricken with cholera, particularly during an extensive outbreak in Panama.
She then applied for a nursing position during the Crimea war. However, she was turned down for this role. Mary still wanted to do whatever she could to help, which meant that she set up the British Hotel, catering to those soldiers who were sick or recovering from illness or injury.
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)
As well as being a conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet also made a significant impact on the world of nursing too. Not only did she dedicate herself to looking after those people whom she had saved from a life of slavery, but she also served as a nurse in the Union army.
This role took her to South Carolina, whereby she tended to sick and wounded soldiers and continued to care for those who had recently been liberated from surgery. Harriet also set up the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negroes, a safe place to live and be cared for.
Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)
Although there were black nurses before her, Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first black woman to become a professionally licensed nurse in the US.
She decided to become a nurse aged 33 after spending 15 years working within the New England Hospital for Women and Children. Not only did she graduate within 16 months, becoming the first black woman to become a professionally licensed nurse, but she also wanted to make sure that she changed things for those who wanted to follow in her footsteps.
She championed nursing education and fighting the discrimination that women like her would feel. She even set up the National Association of Coloured Graduate Nurses, which looked to help other women like her move into their dream careers and change their lives.
These are just some of the nurses whose life work has continued to have a lasting impact on the world. We salute the Black nurses who are currently working and impacting our communities today.
Happy Black History Month!