Commemorating Black History Month and Nursing

Black History Month is an annual celebration during the month of February highlighting the contributions and achievements of African Americans. The observance was begun by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926 to recognize the roles of African Americans throughout U.S. history. In 1986, Congress designated February as Black History Month. Since that time, schools, universities and organizations have continued to celebrate this month and the epic contributions of African Americans.

Black and white old photo of African American Nurse Mary Eliza MahoneyThe achievements of African American nurses like Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first African American to graduate from a nursing program (pictured at right), and Mabel Keaton Staupers, who was instrumental with nurse entry into the military, were monumental accomplishments in beginning diversity and inclusion within health care.

Outstanding African American VUSN nursing leaders include Dr. Hattie Bessent, former faculty member and graduate dean who was designated a Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing, and Dr. Freida Outlaw, former faulty member and former assistant commissioner for the Department of Mental Health for the State of Tennessee.

Throughout the month, look for social media posts about these and other African American nurses and role models. VUSN is proud to continue furthering an environment that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion in academia, research and practice.

Go to Vanderbilt University Black History Month activities.