On Saturday, I went to an event sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of the Black Nurses Association, the Gamma Chapter of the Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., and the Provident Hospital Helene Fuld School of Nursing Alumni Association.
It was an event meant to recognize individuals in the spirit of "The Nursing Legacy of Harriet R. Tubman." My cousin was one of the women who received the Harriet Tubman Legacy in Nursing Award.
I've attended Provident Hospital Alumni events in the past and these events have ALWAYS left me in awe at what the nurses educated at "the Black nursing school" of Provident has been able to accomplish over time.
For background information, the Provident Nursing School was the school in Baltimore, Maryland for Negro women to learn the art of nursing. The older women in my family who were nurses, including my mother, attended the school.
Two featured speakers were Lilyan Slater, R.N. and Esther McCready, R.N. About both women all I have to say is wow.
Lilyan Slater is older of the two women and spoke about the amount of materials she has about Black nurses in Baltimore. She is working with the Reginald Lewis Museum to get the material so that it is not lost.
Esther McCready spoke about what she went through to become the first Negro to attend and graduate from the University of Maryland Nursing School. This article matches, with much less detail, what she told to us about her path to attending and graduating from the University of Maryland.
One thing really struck me about what she said. She said she was isolated at the school. No one walked with her, talked to her, or ate with her. But, she said it didn't matter. When she was a child, she preferred to be by herself. That, she said, prepared her for being alone at the school. She said many times that she believes God prepared her for what she was going to do. Her faith, and the faith of Lilyan Slater came through strongly in their speech.
She also had an interest in music and had a second vocation which took her around the world as a musician. She also worked with Raven Symone.
At the end of the event, I spoke with my cousin and waited about 15-30 minutes to speak with both of the ladies. I told them both that I am not a nurse but my mother was a nurse. Given what my cousin told me, Esther McCready probably taught my mother. But, regardless of that, I wanted to thank them both for their contributions to Black nurses in Baltimore and the country.
Oh, yes, and how about this chain: Lilyan Slater mentored Esther McCready at Provident Hospital in Baltimore. Esther McCready taught my cousin at Provident. My cousin has taught at Provident and other schools. As people came up to speak with Lilyan Slater and Esther McCready, I kept hearing over and over again, "Thank you for teaching me." And what really moved me was hearing some women say the same to my cousin.