The Universal African Black Cross Nurses

0 Posted by - January 24, 2024 - Black History, BLACK WOMEN

The Universal African Black Cross Nurses began in 1920 and was similar in organization and objective to the Red Cross. Better known as the Black Cross Nurses, the goal was to provide medical services, education, and services to Black people.



At the time of the Black Cross Nurses’ creation, Henrietta Vinton Davis was the Vice President of the Black Star Line and international organizer of the UNIA-ACL. She was also heavily involved with the women’s wing.

Garvey pushed for the creation of the BCN partially as a means of integrating women into active roles. Another main goal was to train literate Black women between 15 and 45 involved in or entering the medical field while also providing medical career and education to the Black community.

The training went on for several months to a year for all positions from doctors to nurses to people capable of general care.



In training people at all tiers of the medical field, it ensured that quality care was available to everyone. Bolstering this was the establishment of medical sites throughout North America. While most states had a Black Cross Nurse presence, the largest concentration was in Harlem, the east coast and throughout the south. The organization also had a presence in California.

Beyond the U.S, the BCN had sites in Canada and throughout the Caribbean. In a seven-year period, the Black Cross Nurses would see its numbers would start to dip significantly in the U.S. The organization’s presence in other countries lasted longer thanks to several world events in different decades.

Today’s Black Cross Nurses continue the work of those from the early 20th century and continue to have a presence in areas around the world.


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