First In The Nation

First In The Nation

Written on 01/21/2020
CuriPow


Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879. Mahoney was one of the first African Americans to graduate from a nursing school, and she prospered in a predominantly white society. She also challenged discrimination against African Americans in nursing.

In 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. This organization attempted to uplift the standards and everyday lives of African-American registered nurses. The NACGN had a significant influence on eliminating racial discrimination in the registered nursing profession. In 1951, the NACGN merged with the American Nurses Association which also created an award on her behalf.

One of the many goals that Mahoney had hoped of achieving, was to change the way patients and families thought of minority nurses. Mahoney wanted to abolish any discrimination in the nursing field. Being an African American, in a predominantly white society, she often received discrimination as an African American nurse. Mahoney didn't understand racial discrimination in a workforce such as Nursing. In Massachusetts particularly, it was difficult for African American nurses to find work following graduation due to the limitations of either working in African American homes or working in white homes that already have African American employees in household work.

Mahoney has received many honors and awards for her pioneering work. She was inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 1976 and into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.


"She believed that all people should have the opportunity to chase their dreams without racial discrimination."



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