NC Association of Colored Graduate Nurses/Negro Registered Nurses, Inc
Learn more about the North Carolina Association of Colored Graduate Nurses/North Carolina State Association of Negro Registered Nurses, Inc
- Organizational papers at NC State Archives (Raleigh, NC) in the NC State Nurse Association papers.
- Thoms, A.B. (1985). Pathfinders: A history of the progress of Colored Graduate Nurses. Garland Press.
- Massey, G.E. (1933). The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses
- The American Journal of Nursing, 33 (6), pp. 534-536
- Clark, M.F. (August 1916) "Of interest to nurses"Journal of the National Medical Association 8(4) 203-205. Describes the 9th session of the National Assn of Colored Graduate Nurses , Miss Julia Latta, Public Health Nurse of Durham presented a paper on "Public Health Nursing and Sanitation in the South"
- D'Antonio, P. (2010) American Nursing: A History of Knowledge, Authority, and the Meaning of Work. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. MD.
- "Of interest to nurses" (1910) Journal of the National Medical Association pgs 399-401. Nurse Julia Latta of Durham presents her paper" Ethics of Nursing".
- "Of interest to nurses" (August 1915) Journal of the National Medical Association 7(4) 326-327. Describes the 8th annual meeting of the NC National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses held at Shaw University in Raleigh NC. There is a discussion about St Agnes school of Nursing.
- Pollitt P and Reese CN. (1997) "The North Carolina Association of Colored Graduate Nurses: a proud heritage." ABNF Journal. 8(2):32-4 - reprinted below:
Despite the recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge by nursing graduates for over a century, personal and organizational racism prevented the Pledge from being fulfilled for many decades.
The first 50 years of professional nursing in North Carolina were marred by racial exclusion, prejudice and segregation. From education to employment to membership in professional associations, African-American nurses in North Carolina, indeed in all the states of the old Confederacy and in much of the nation, faced legal, social and professional discrimination.
Despite these obstacles, though, many African-American nurses survived and thrived. Many brought the rudiments of nursing to poor, uneducated, and sick people. In addition, they sought to fulfill the obligations of the Florence Nightingale Pledge by maintaining and elevation he standards of profession.
Because the exclusively white North Carolina State Nurses Association (NCSNA) provided the primary arena for professional discussion, legislative activity and continuing education programs for nurses in North Carolina. African-American Nurses established a parallel organization, the North Carolina Association of Colored Graduate Nurses.
When the NCSNA formed in 1902, membership privileges were extended only to white nurses. Although North Carolina was then home to several high caliber nursing schools for African Americans, such as Good Samaritan in Charlotte, St. Agnes in Raleigh and Lincoln in Durham, their graduates were barred from participating the only professional nursing organization in the state. Membership in the American Nurses Association (ANA) was granted only to members of state affiliates until 1948; therefore, membership in the predominant national professional association was also closed to all southern African-American nurses.
Seeking the benefits of a professional organization denied them by the ANA, a group of African-American nurses, led by Martha Franklin of Philadelphia, met in New York in 1908 to form the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). The purposes of the new organization were enumerated in its Certificate of Incorporation. A portion of it reads:
“…to promote the professional and educational advancement of nurses in every proper way; to elevate the standards of nursing education: to establish and maintain a code of ethics among nurses…”
Charlotte Rhone, the first African American Registered Nurse from New Bern, was the only registered nurse from North Carolina to attend the initial meeting of the NACGN. She became a charter member of the organization. All nurses were welcome to participate in the NACGN. Annual meetings were held to provide opportunities for continuing education, networking and discussion and action on legal, legislative and professional issues affecting their practice, their race and the nursing profession.
Five North Carolina nurses attended the 1921 NACGN annual convention in Washington, D.C. They were Carrie Early Broadfoot, Mrs. Faionr (difficult to read the spelling in the handwritten notes),Miss Anna Saunders, MIss M.L. Taylor and Miss Miller. Carrie Early Broadfoot, of Fayetteville, called the North Carolina nurses together during the conference and suggested they establish a state chapter of the NACGN. Upon their return to North Carolina, they wrote and spoke to as many nurses as possible about the benefits of having an organization. Their hard work paid off. The first meeting of the North Carolina Colored Graduate Nurses Association (NCCGNA, changed in 1931 to North Carolina State Association of Negro Registered Nurses, Inc. –NCSANRI) was held on January 18, 1923 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with 16 nurses in attendance. Broadfoot was elected president, a post she held for the next eight years. A second meeting was held in Raleigh on May 3, 1923 with 35 nurses participating. By 1938, there were 150 active members of the group and by 1949, 269 African-American nurses were involved in the organization.
African American nurses in the larger towns had their own chapters. The Charlotte group named themselves the Florence Nightingale Club and had 15 members. The Raleigh group had 10 active members and was known as the Edith Cavell Club and the Durham group numbered 9.
Members had to be Registered Nurses or retired Registered Nurses. They put out a newsletter called the North Carolina Nurisng Gazette. As early as 1924 the group approached the White NC State Nurses Assocaition to discuss merger, but were rebuffed for decades.
The NCCGNA offered opportunities for professional growth. Members rotated leadership positions, attended and coordinated state and national conferences, lobbied politicians about health and nursing concerns and took turns representing North Carolina on the NACGN Executive Board. In addition, NCCGNA members participated in events sponsored by groups such as National Negro Health Week, the American Red Cross and the AntiTubercular Society.
Educational and employment discrimination deeply concerned members of the NCGNA. In 1937, there were only 11 hospitals in North Carolina employing African-American nurses. In addition, African-American nurses wanting to work in community health could only find jobs in a few cities. Plus, there were only six schools of nursing in North Carolina open to African-American students.
By the 1940s, the nation was experiencing a zeitgeist of social, political, moral and economic forces that were changing the accepted patterns of behavior. Racial injustice was being questioned by more people than ever before in American history.
Leaders of the NCSANRN and the NCSNA met throughout the 1940s to create a plan to merge, thus ending discrimination in the largest professional nursing organization in the state. This planning paid off in 1949 when the NCCGNA voted itself out of existence and the NCSNA voted to open its membership to all registered nurses in the state of North Carolina. Maria B. Noell, executive secretary of the NCSNA, praised the actions of the NCCGNA by saying:
“Since all citizens of North Carolina need adequate nursing care and since the professional nursing organizations are to a great degree responsible for such care. I believe the action taken this morning by the N.C. Association of Negro Registered Nurses, Inc. to dissolve its organization of 27 years standing and to associate itself wholly with the NC State Nurses’ Association will be a great asset in promoting nursing service for all North Carolinians.’’
Elizabeth M. Thompson, President of NCSANRN in 1949 closed the last meeting of the NCCGNA with these words:
The final chapter has been written by the North Carolina Association of Negro Registered Nurses, Inc., but the activities of nurses and nursing must go on. As professional women, we all have a great part to play in furthering the progress and elevating the standards of this work. The integrating of the associations gives opportunity for great service, and by so doing, humanity will be better served.
It took over a decade after the merger of the professional organizations for white schools of nursing in North Carolina to accept African-American students. It took the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 to begin to end employment discrimination against African-American nurses in North Carolina.
Most North Carolina nurses, regardless of race, are unaware of the hard work and professionalism exhibited by a small group of Tarheel African-American nurses in the first half of this century. These individuals worked under very difficult circumstances to promote professional nursing in our state. Their determination to elevate the standards of nursing for themselves and their patients can inspire use today.