1. Shannon, Iris R. PhD, RN, FAAN

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"Honoring Black Nurses" (Editorial, February) resonated with me-I'm an African American nurse and the facilitator of the Meharry School of Nursing History Project, for which some alumnae are collecting stories about this historically black school's graduates. Operational from 1900 to 1962, the school graduated 666 nurses; we've accumulated more than 130 of their stories thus far.


Many graduates have reported that they encountered barriers to entering nursing programs based on their race, particularly in Southern states. They've also mentioned the importance of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, organized during World War II to meet a nursing shortage, which provided the resources needed for some students to enter the nursing profession.


Alumnae have frequently mentioned that they were the first African American professional nurses in a setting or to receive a promotion. Some of our graduates are members of the American Academy of Nursing, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academies; many have master's and doctoral degrees, and some have been nursing school deans and nursing service administrators or served as leaders in the nation's military. For this group of nurses, adversity provided opportunity and often stimulated success.


Much progress has been made, but African Americans continue to be underrepresented in professional nursing, just as data continue to demonstrate disproportionately poor health outcomes among African Americans. It's as important now as it was when the Meharry School of Nursing existed to educate African Americans to become leaders in nursing, to support national efforts to overcome racial health disparities, and to provide role models for the next generation.


Iris R. Shannon, PhD, RN, FAAN


Past President, American Public Health Association, Chicago