Black History Month: Celebrating 5 Remarkable Women

It is Black History Month! History is full of the experiences of those who have achieved and made mistakes. It is a resource to reflect on the remarkable people who shaped the society we live in today. Unfortunately, the reel of history is long and not untarnished. Without people’s efforts to restore it, the actions and accomplishments of incredible people risk fading away or being overlooked. This is why occasions like Black History Month, are important to shine a light on these underrepresented individuals and the historical challenges they faced particularly for racial equality. It is the perfect opportunity to uncover and discover role models to inspire the current and next generation.

In honour of this year’s BHM theme: “Saluting Our Sisters”, in this week’s blog, we honour 5 incredible women who have made and are still making a difference in healthcare.



Mary Seacole (1805-1881)

Mary Seacole is famous for her work during the Crimean War, caring for wounded soldiers. Her father was a Scottish soldier, and her mother was a practitioner of traditional Jamaican medicine, from whom Mary learned most of her skills.

Committed to the welfare of others, she travelled widely to places of disease and war to treat the sick and wounded. She applied to be a nurse during the Crimean War but was rejected due to racial prejudice. Despite this, she funded herself to go anyway as a sutler (a person who sells provisions to the army) and joined forces with a distant relative called Day, to launch a hotel near the British Camp. Here she sold medical supplies and her services; the hotel eventually became known to the soldiers as “Mother Seacole’s”. It is also recorded that she would attend to the wounded on the front line and under frequent fire. Seacole showed incredible resilience and a strong commitment and dedication to others despite the challenges she faced.



Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)

Mahoney was the first African American licensed nurse and was largely driven by her aims for greater equality for African Americans and women.

She was educated at one of the first racially integrated schools, after which she joined a hospital for women and children. There, she worked in various roles, including as a nurse’s aide which helped open the door for her into the nursing profession.

“Mahoney was admitted to the hospital’s professional graduate school for nursing. The program, which ran for 16 months, was intensive. Many who entered this course did not manage to complete it; 42 students had entered in 1878, but only 4 finished in 1879. This is when she became the first African American licensed nurse.”

After her studies, Mahoney did not pursue public nursing due to the discrimination she faced but instead went into private nursing where the care was focused on one client. Many of those she cared for were from wealthy, white families and it was through this, which helped build up her reputation.

She joined a nursing association which was initially white-dominated and later cofounded the National Association of Coloured Graduate Nurses (NACGN) to advocate for the equality of African American Nurses. Moreover, she became the director of an orphanage asylum for black children. Even after she retired after 40 years, she continued to campaign for women’s rights and was one of the first women who were registered to vote in Boston.



Rebecca Cole (1846 -1922)

Dr Cole was the second African American women doctor and an advocate for the medical rights of the poor and underrepresented.

“She overcame racial and gender barriers to medical education by training in all-female institutions run by women who had been part of the first generation of female physicians graduating mid-century”.

Dr Cole practised medicine for 50 years and went on to work with poor women and children, opening a centre to provide medical and legal services. She was also appointed superintendent of a home run by the Association for the Relief of Destitute Coloured Women and Children in Washington.



Annie Brewster (1858 -1902)

Recognised as one of the first Afro-Caribbean nurses to work in Britain, she started as a trainee nurse at the Royal London Hospital in 1881.  She was eventually promoted to overseeing Ophthalmic (Eye Disease) Wards, where she would work with primarily elderly patients who were losing their sight.

Sadly, she died tragically at 43, after an emergency operation. She was highly commended for her 20 years of service by many of her peers.

“Annie was one of the figures whose photographs were projected onto the facade of the former Royal London Hospital building in Whitechapel to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS in November 2018.”



Kym Oliver & Jumoke Abdullahi, The Triple Cripples (Present)

Back to the present, The Triple Cripples is an organisation set up by Kym Oliver & Jumoke Abdullahi. The purpose is to provide a platform and bring visibility to ethnic minorities living with disabilities.

They share educational content and interviews on the topic and have gained recognition on many popular news outlets. They are perfect examples of those still striving to make a difference in modern society.



Do you have more to say? Did you find this helpful? Let us know!

Continue the conversation on our socials…








Did you find everything you needed today?

If not, you can call us on 0121 714 5522

Scroll to Top