OADN Voices: Celebrating Black Nurses

February 20, 2024

Continuing the Legacy:
Celebrating Black Nurses’ Contributions this Black History Month and Beyond

Dear OADN Members,

Though Black History Month is nearing its end, the contributions of Black nurses deserve continuous recognition. OADN expresses our sincere appreciation for the invaluable contributions of Black nurses to our most noble profession.

As a Black nurse of Haitian heritage, I humbly acknowledge that I am indebted to the giants whose shoulders I stand upon, such as Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first licensed Black American nurse in 1879, and Catherine Flon, the nurse most notably revered for sewing the Haitian flag but also serving as a nurse in the Haitian Revolution that lead to Haiti’s independence in 1804.

I also acknowledge the pioneers among us, including friends of OADN like Dr. Sheldon Fields, President of the National Black Nurses Association, Dr. Sharrica Miller, a trailblazing nursing leader and diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist, and  Dr. Marie O. Etienne, the first black President of the Florida American Nurses Association who is also of Haitian descent, as they continue to pave the way for future generations.

While this month serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience, leadership, and unwavering commitment of Black nurses throughout history, I believe it’s crucial to extend this recognition beyond February. We must continuously celebrate the inspiring Black nursing students, educators, researchers, and practitioners who shape patient care, research, education, and advocacy every day.

As we acknowledge the strides made, we must also confront the persistent challenges rooted in systemic racism and inequity within healthcare. This serves as a call to action for us all to actively dismantle barriers and foster inclusivity in every aspect of nursing.

To our esteemed Black nurse colleagues, we extend our deepest gratitude for your dedication to advancing health equity and improving outcomes for all. Your tireless efforts in the face of adversity inspire us all to strive for a more just and equitable healthcare system.

As we move forward, let us reaffirm our commitment to honoring the past, celebrating the present, and shaping a future where diversity, equity, and inclusion are the cornerstones of nursing excellence. Together, we can create a profession that truly reflects the richness and diversity of the communities we serve.

Patricia Nabal, DNP, FNP, RN-BC
Director, Midwest Region
OADN Board of Directors