As Black History Month draws to a close, let’s take time out to celebrate the innovations and achievements that black women have made in the health sector. As the rest of the world begins to recognise the imbalances of black representation in all professions, and the discrimination faced against the darker race, we hope for the long awaiting “change is a coming!”
Black history is celebrated once a year, so its rich history is often hidden from public knowledge, and usually incorrect when told by someone other than black, to hide the true horrors and the fortitude black people had. Examples are, through slavery, the Black Codes/Jim Crow era, even Windrush, all ‘facts’ were fabricated to make us seem compliant yet feral, docile and problematic.
Even when faced with hardship and discrimination, “we are rise against adversity” and produce amazing inventors that saves millions of lives, invent unbelievable mechanisms and have unfathomable ability to be selfless and take the frontline to be help all people. This is why we must celebrate these Qweens!
Mary Seacole – the true act of Selflessness
We may all know the story of Mary Seacole, the Jamaican born nurse, who moved to England in 1854, and was on the frontline during the Crimean War. As Seacole was first refused to be placed at the front as army nurse, possibly due to racism, this Qween independently found ways to raise essentials like food and medicine, for the injured and those in need at her own establishment, the ‘British Hotel’. A true Shero!
Her fundamental role in the Crimean War was disregarded and overshadowed by Florence Nightingale by the British Press, but, in the 90s she gained recognition for her exemplary work and was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit.
What Seacole represents is perseverance and selflessness.
Mary Beatrice Kenner – Bloody Genius
Could you image a world without sanitary pads as we know them now? The comfortable solution for menstruation hygiene. No, well we have to thank American Mary Beatrice Kenner for the innovative creation of the ‘sanitary belt, the first patent for sanitary pads.
Kenner created ‘a device for supporting catamenial pads or sanitary napkins on the body of the wearer in a highly efficient and satisfactory manner’ in 1956. This Qween submitted this patent. The sanitary belt is a belt that sits around the waist with two straps that clip at either end of a large, mattress- style pad, just so the pad stays in place. Kenner introduced a ‘moisture proof napkin pocket’ in her updated version of the sanitary belt. The new add-on would go under the pad, just so that blood is less likely to spill onto clothes. She’s a genius, right?
Although her patent invention had interest from big brands, that excitement went as soon as the big corporation found out she was black. Kenner received the patent for the sanitary belt 30 years after she originally created it. At least we can thank, Kenner for her creativity and awareness for women needs.
Elizabeth Anionwu – For the culture
Where can I find the nearest sickle cell centre? No, not sure, but I’m sure we can find where the first one was set up. Qween Elizabeth Anionwu, from the UK, started her career as a school nurse assistant at the tender age of 16. Anuionwu then continued her education to become a nurse. This Qween shed light on why she continued to stay in the profession and focussed on those from ethnic backgrounds ‘people from diverse cultures are not always valued and still sometimes just seen as problems. A true leader in my humble opinion. Anionwu helped established the first nurse-led UK sickle and Thalassaemia Screening and Counselling Centres in 1979.
Elizabeth demonstrates a true community leader as she went above and beyond to ensure this dis-ease would not go un-treated in sterile environment.
Marie M. Daley – The Heart and Soul
What’s the correlation between cholesterol and arteries? Marie M. Daly knows. A New York native who had a passion for science yet, attending university (college) proved to be difficult in the 1940s without finance which many Blacks in America struggled with, as only 2% of black women had a degree at that time. But This Qween found a way. Her success was found when she completed her PhD with a thesis titled ‘A study of the products formed by the action of pancreatic amylase on corn starch’ . She became the first woman in the United States to receive a PhD in Chemistry. Devotion at its finest!
Daly pioneered the discovery between high cholesterol and clogged arteries at Albert Einstein College, which and continue to save millions of people from heart attacks.
Marie Daly teaches determination and dedication to get things done for the greater good.
Celebrate these phenomenal Qweens with me, and many more to come!