Mary SeacoleMary Seacole

The history of black women in the nursing profession is a story of women of color fighting to overcome racial, social and economic injustice. In their efforts to obtain appropriate and professional health care education, these women also sought to acquire professional acceptance from their white counterparts.

One of the earliest women of color to serve as a caregiver was Mary Seacole, who was born in 1805 in Kingston, Jamaica. She had no formal training as a nurse but she learned all she knew from her mother, who was a well-known “healer” in the Kingston area. As a child, Seacole watched her mother work, took in all the knowledge she could and practiced whatever she learned on her doll. If there were a disease prevalent in Kingston, her poor doll would “contract” it. After a while Seacole extended her caregiving to dogs, cats and other animals.

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