Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
2 min readFeb 7, 2024

Topic: Dedicated Caregivers: The African American Nurse

Photo by Daniel Andrade on Unsplash

As we all know, trustworthy caregivers don’t always wear capes; they wear stethoscopes. Since February is Black History Month, I want to reflect on the role of African-American nurses as caregivers. African American nurses have dedicated their lives to caring for others, breaking barriers, and shattering stereotypes. Where did it all begin? Who were the early African American Nurses who taught us the importance of education, equality, a seat at the table, and the responsibility to care? Sharing a snippet of three amazing colleagues that every African American nurse stands on the shoulder of is the topic of this blog.

African-American Nurses That Cared!

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845–1926) was the first African-American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States. 1879, Mahoney was the first African American nurse to complete nurse training. She practiced during a time when African American nurse was considered insignificant and not equal to their white counterparts despite the training to become a nurse was the same. During the time of racial discrimination, nurses of color had to fight to practice consistently. Mary Eliza Mahoney realized that nurses needed a voice. She and two colleagues founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) to improve education and access to the nursing profession.

Martha Minerva Franklin (1870–1968) was one of the first nurses to campaign for racial equality in nursing. She later started in-home duty nursing, sharing the importance of caring for families in the home.

Adah Belle Samuels Thoms (1870–1943) was an African American nurse who co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. She fought for African Americans to serve as American Red Cross nurses during World War I.

To learn more about the African American Nurses that framed our practice:

https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/mahoney-mary-eliza-1845-1926/

https://whereilivect.org/nurse-pioneer-martha-minerva-franklin/

https://cooper.edu/alumni/coopermade/adahbellsamuelsthoms

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and an African American Nurse, I realized long ago that we stand on the shoulders of our past. The past continues to design our future as chief executive officers (CEOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), chief nurse officers (CNOs), head nurses, supervisors, nurse managers, award recipients, directors of nursing programs, presidents of professional organizations, innovators, deans and provosts, political activists, and contributors to Black-owned newspapers. The position of every African American nurse representing our profession is head up and shoulder back! Always demand appreciation for the shoulders on which we stand. Be safe! Be well!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager, CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.

Website: www.cynthiajhickman.com

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.