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The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s saw the emergence of Black Power, the Black Panther Party, and other displays of black pride.  There was a sense that African Americans were moving forward and finally beginning to gain the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that had been afforded White Americans.  However, there were still many battles to be fought before African Americans would see the true equity that is their right as Americans, and, sadly, the battle continues.  As the coronavirus pandemic has revealed, there are still a plethora of ‘pandemics’ ravaging the African American community:  social injustice, racial inequality, health disparities, economic inequity, and political disenfranchisement to name a few.


During this time in the early 1970s, the American Nurses Association (ANA), did not allow African American nurses in key roles nor as members.  The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (circa 1909) had dissolved, and African American nurses saw the need for representation on a national level and, in 1971, the National Black Nurses Association was founded. 


In 1975, Darlene Ruffin Alexander, Ph.D., moved to Atlanta from Texas where she was President of the Texas Nurses Association.  Dr. Alexander, concerned about the state of Black nurses nationwide and locally, realized the necessity for an organization in Atlanta to ensure that African Americans got the same care as others.  In 1978, Dr. Alexander assembled a group of black nurses together to form a steering committee to ask the question, “Where do we go from here?”  The women met at South West Community Hospital, never thinking they would join a national organization.  The women talked about different incidents they experienced as Black nurses throughout the country as many were transplants to Atlanta.  They formulated a plan and that plan blossomed into the Atlanta Black Nurse Association where Dr. Alexander became its first president and served in the role for four years.  Even then, her vision was clear: 

“As we advocate for each other we get better.

We can make a difference in the lives of others”.

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