Seated: Phyllis Jenkins, Lauranne Sams, Betty Smith Williams and Ethelrine Shaw. Standing: Gloria Rookard, Betty Jo Davidson, Mary Harper, Doris Wilson, Mattiedna K. Johnson, Phyllis Davis, Mattie Watkins and Florrie Jefferson

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the climate for Blacks throughout urban America was one of coming together to express pride in their identity, to demand equality, to fight against racism and discrimination and to seek power locally and nationally. During this era, feelings of hope, optimism, and a commitment to improving the quality of life for Blacks were evident across the nation.

While the issue of civil rights had been on the agenda of several civil rights organizations, such as the NAACP and the National Urban League, for many years, the events of the late ’60s and early ’70s crystallized the issue for most Black Americans. The civil rights movement was the primary impetus that moved Black people from all professions and all walks of life to action. Black nurses were no exception.

The National Black Nurses Association was organized in 1971 under the leadership of Dr. Lauranne Sams, former dean and professor of nursing at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, and continues to serve a vital role in the personal development and professional trajectory of Black nurses across the nation.

The National Black Nurses Association hosted its 32nd annual National Black Nurses Day on Capitol Hill in February, addressing a gamut of concerns including gun violence and its health consequences, mental health and depression, and climate change and environmental justice. More than 300 nurses and nursing students participated and championed the theme, “Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: NBNA’s Call to Action.”

“NBNA Day on Capitol Hill provides tools and offers experiences on how to best advocate for the profession of nursing and the communities where our members live and work,” said Dr. Sheldon Fields, Chair, NBNA Health Policy Committee. “Nurses are on the front lines of health care. Nurses are change agents, advocating for the profession and for their patients. We can help with practical public policy decisions to improve the health status in our communities.”

About NBNA:

NBNA is a nonprofit organization incorporated on Sept. 2, 1972, in the state of Ohio.

NBNA represents approximately 200,000 African American nurses from the U.S., Canada, Eastern Caribbean and Africa, with 115 chartered chapters nationwide.

NBNA’s mission is to provide a forum for collective action by African American nurses to represent and provide a forum for black nurses to advocate for and implement strategies to ensure access to the highest quality of health care for persons of color.

NBNA is committed to excellence in education and conducts continuing education programs for nurses and allied health professionals throughout the year. The association provides annual scholarships for students.

NBNA collaborates with private and public agencies/organizations that share common concerns for improving the health status of all people, particularly African Americans and other minority consumers.

NBNA publishes its Newsletter four times a year: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter; and a Journal of NBNA twice a year: spring/summer and fall/winter.

NBNA convenes an annual National Institute and Conference. The National Black Nurses Association hosts an annual Institute and Conference in the summer of each year. NBNA’s annual Institute and Conference features the most prominent speakers in nursing and health care.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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