February is the Black history month whereby African Americans are celebrated for the various milestones reached as the African American history is celebrated. Mary Eliza was born in Dorchester, Boston on May 7, 1845 and died in Boston Massachusetts on January 4, 1926. In 1993, Mary was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Mary Eliza’s parents were Charles Mahoney and Mary Jane Steward Mahoney. Mary Eliza Mahoney was played a significant role in black history as the first black nurse and through her efforts in fighting against discrimination and championing for increased access to nursing education for blacks. The paper will discuss Mary Eliza Mahoney who was the first African American nurse in history
Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first black person to receive nursing education and work as a professionally trained nurse in America. In 1879, Mary Eliza became the first black individual to graduate from an American school of nursing. Mary Eliza had various goals she intended to achieve and among them were changing how families and patients perceived minority nurses. She wanted to abolish all forms of discrimination in the nursing sector. Additionally, being a black person in a predominantly white society often made her experience discrimination as black woman. It was particularly challenging for African American nurses in Massachusetts to find work after graduating. There were racial limitations that made Mary Eliza even more determined to eliminate racial discrimination. Baptiste and colleagues (2021) always strived to ensure equality and justice were done for all nurses especially minority nurses.
According to Georges (2010), Mary Eliza cleared a path for the many opportunities that were taken by other black nurses that followed. Before Mary Eliza became the first black Registered Nurse (RN) in America in 1879, Eliza worked in healthcare organizations in low-level post for over ten years before she finally started a nursing program. The country’s racist practices in history included limiting admissions to schools of nursing. For many years, only historically black universities and hospitals provided admission to African Americans who wished to get in the nursing field. After graduating, African American nurses were denied job opportunities in many healthcare settings. They therefore created their own job opportunities and most turned to public hospital systems to provide child care for the vulnerable in the communities.
Mahoney played a significant role in fighting against racial discrimination and gender discrimination. In 1908, Mary Eliza Mahoney alongside her two colleagues Adah Thoms and Martha Minerva Franklin met in New York and established the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). Mary Eliza worked relentlessly with the women and her contribution to the association was fundamental in increasing access to nursing and educational practices. The NACGN played a significant role in uplifting the working standards and everyday lives of black registered nurses. According to Grambling (n.d), Mary was dedicated in improving living conditions for women especially women of color and other minorities. The organization achieved success with Mahoney’s help to eliminate racial discrimination in the profession. A consistent increase in acceptance and graduation of Black women into prominent medical platforms was encouraging to the organization founders. The intergration of American Nurses Association and the NACGN led to the organization dissolution in 1951. In 1976, Mary Eliza got inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame.
In conclusion, Mary Eliza Mahoney was played a significant role in black history as the first black nurse and through her efforts in fighting against discrimination and championing for increased access to nursing education for blacks. In 1879, Mary Eliza became the first black individual to graduate from an American school of nursing and work as a professional nurse. Mahoney played a significant role in fighting against racial discrimination and gender discrimination.
Baptiste, Diana‐Lyn, et al. (2021). “Hidden figures of nursing: the historical contributions of Black nurses and a narrative for those who are unnamed, undocumented and underrepresented.” Journal of advanced nursing 77.4. 1627-1632.
Georges, Catherine Alicia. (2010). “Honoring Black Nurses.” AJN The American Journal of Nursing 110.2. 7.
GRAMBLING, LOUISIANA. “SHARON HALL MURFF, RN MSN, CCRN.”