Celebrating Black History Month

Feb 14, 2023

To celebrate Black History Month, we are honoring Black healthcare leaders who have contributed to the advancement of our health and healthcare systems. Their contributions continue to have a long-standing impact on us all. To celebrate their legacy, we will be spotlighting Black nurses, advocates, and other trailblazers and their achievements.

Learn more about the Historical Black Healthcare Leaders we are highlighting this month.

Dr. Lauranne Sams

Dr. Lauranne Sams is known as being the founder of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). Today the NBNA implements strategies ensuring access to a high quality of healthcare for people of color. Learn more about her legacy.

Estelle Massey Riddle Osborne

During a time when women of color were fighting to advance in the field of nursing, Estelle Massey Riddle Osborne became the first African American to receive her Masters in Nursing Education. She went on to also become the first Black woman director at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis. Learn more about her legacy.

Dr. Lillian Hollan Harvey

As a proponent of racial equality, Dr. Lillian Holland Harvey, founded the first BSN program in Alabama at the Tuskegee Institute. Later, she would serve as the school's first Dean. Dr. Harvey is known for being a nurse leader and activist for racial equality. Learn more about her legacy.

Sandra Lindsay

Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse in New York City, became the first person in the U.S. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial. Shortly after receiving the vaccine, Lindsay shared how the vaccine gave her hope. Learn more about her story.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman, a Civil War nurse and prominent Abolitionist, brought more than 70 enslaved people to freedom over 13 trips on the underground railroad. Using herbal medicine, she treated sick soldiers and enslaved people. Learn more about her legacy.

Mary Eliza Mahoney

As a proponent of equal access to nursing education, Mary Eliza Mahoney became the first registered Black nurse in 1897. Her interests led her to become one of the first members of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). The NACGN eventually merged with the American Nurses Association. Learn more about her legacy.

Adah Belle Samuels Thoms

Adah Belle Samuels Thoms was a prominent Black nurse in the early 20th century. As the cofounder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses she was a pioneer for equal rights, aiding in the integration of nursing. Learn more about her legacy.

As we honor past nursing leaders, we also celebrate the future of nursing. On February 2, 2023, the Pennsylvania Action Coalition had the pleasure of attending the 35th Annual National Black Nurses (NBNA) Day on Capitol Hill. This forum is dedicated to congressional health issues and policy. Student mentees from the PA-ACCEL Mentorship Program, a partnership with Lincoln University, learned about seven key legislative priorities advancing health equity. These legislative topics included:

  1. Ensuring Health Equity: Supporting the Nursing Workforce
  2. Gun Violence: America's Continued Crisis
  3. Obesity: America's Health Calamity
  4. Suicide: A Mental Health Catastrophe
  5. Equity and Wellness:  Climate and Environmental Justice
  6. Criminal Justice Reform and Health Inequities
  7. Time to Reckon with Black Maternity Health

Mentees in the PA-ACCEL Mentorship Program share highlights about their experience at NBNA Day. 

Pictured below is Congresswoman Lauren Underwood who currently serves as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Underwood represents the 14th Congressional District of Illinois, officially taking office on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is a trailblazer, being the first female, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. Learn more about her accomplishments and work.