Black nurses would not accept this situation quietly. In 1908, Martha Minerva Franklin, a Black nurse leader, helped to organize the creation of the National Association for Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN).
The NACGN tackled many injustices, fighting discriminatory licensing laws, working to improve the quality of Black nursing schools, and operating a registry to help Black nurses find work. The NACGN also partnered with groups like the National Urban League, the NAACP, and the National Council of Negro Women on campaigns for Black voting rights and against Jim Crow segregation laws.
Among the NACGN’s greatest victories was the passage of the 1943 Bolton Act and the 1945 integration of military nursing under the leadership of Mabel Staupers and Estelle Massey Riddle Osborne.
After the NACGN's dissolution in 1951, Black nurses continued to be fierce advocates for justice in American society - whether in their own working conditions or in the healthcare of the communities they served.
Continue reading to learn more about Black nurses' activism in Chicago.