History of Black Nurses

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Trained schools for students who wanted to pursue a career in nursing came about in the 1800s when Florence Nightingale advocated the idea.  The only students that were accepted into these programs where white students, blacks were not allowed any education during this time.  Blacks were not given equal rights as the white people, and were denied the right to have an education. 

There were many black young women who were very interested in nursing, and were dedicated to pursue their dream, and wouldn't stop trying until they were given equal rights and accepted into these nursing programs.  Some black women would follow along with the black soldiers in the Civil War and provide care to these wounded soldiers, as well as provide food, and also teach them to read and right.  The first school of nursing was formed after two black men in Chicago, Illinois won the support of their community, and made a hospital out of a small brick building. The black people also came together to form the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, an organization formed to protect the black nursing profession, and to stop discrimination towards them.

History of Black Nurses
During the early 1800s nursing was mainly caring for the sick by family members or slaves. Nurses provided care in homes, and when World War I and II came about, nurses were sent off to provide care to the wounded soldiers. There was not a trained system for nurses to learn and gain experience in the profession, so all of the care that the sick were provided was by untrained nurses. It wasn’t until Florence Nightingale recognized the idea of providing a trained, organized system for nurses to learn before they worked as a professional nurse. Many schools arose out of her idea, however white students were only accepted into these nursing schools, blacks were not accepted. Black people were not given equal rights as the whites, and were denied the right for education and were therefore, denied acceptance into these nursing programs.

Mary Eliza Mahoney was born to Charles and Mary Jane Mahoney in 1845, in Boston, Massachusetts. She began to show an interest in nursing when she was a teenager, and worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children as an unofficial nurse aid, a cook, janitor, and washerwoman. When she was thirty-three years old, she was accepted to a nursing program. as one of forty-two, being the only black student, (Hines, 2004). Although she had to deal with racial discrimination and long hours of lectures and patient care, she made it to the end of the program as one of four. In 1879, she graduated from the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, making her the first black professional nurse in the United States.

After Mary Mahoney graduated from nursing school, she worked mainly as a private duty nurse for the next thirty years. Her work became widespread as a private duty nurse. Her patient’s loved her calmness, and professionalism, and she began receiving requests from different states, (Haltey, 2010). After working for private duty for thirty years, Mahoney opened a director of an orphanage in Long Island, New York, and remained there for the next ten years. In 1908, she became a cofounder to the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, (Hines, 2004).

Mary Mahoney became an inspiration to many black women wanting to pursue a career in nursing. She fought through discrimination, as well as the pressures of nursing school, and graduated with a nursing degree. She helped to open the door for the black population that wanted to become a professional nurse and put an end to the discrimination.

Susie King Taylor was born a slave in 1848 on the Grest family farm in Georgia. When Susie was seven years old her owner, Mr. Grest, allowed her to move to Savannah with her Grandmother who had been previously freed by him, (MacLean, 2007). Susie was denied education because she was black ,...
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