Black Lives Matter: Remembering Nurse Mary Seacole

08 Jun 10:00 by Jesse Rashley

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In light of the turbulent events of the last few weeks that reflect the inequalities of hundreds of years, it has never been more vital we highlight the contributions that BAME groups have made to our world and the Nursing sector that may have been overlooked

Last month we posted an article in light of  Florence Nightingale’s 200th Birthday, and we would like to ensure that Florence’s counterpart gets equally recognised for her contributions in a time which was revolutionary for nursing.

For those who don’t know, Mary Seacole was born in Jamaica over 200 years ago. This was during a period when many black people in the Caribbean were forced to work as slaves. Although Mary’s mother was black, her father James Grant was a white Scottish army officer and Mary was born a ‘free person’.

Mary travelled the world when she was young, including other Caribbean islands such as Cuba & Haiti. Aged 19 Mary moved  to London on her own, and experienced racism first hand.

During the Crimean war, Mary travelled to England and approached the British War Office, asking to be sent as an army nurse to the Crimea where she had heard there were poor medical facilities for wounded soldiers. She was refused.

Undaunted, she fundraised her own trip to Crimea, where she established the British Hotel. The hotel provided a place of respite for sick and recovering soldiers. At the time, Mary was as well-known in Britain as Florence Nightingale. Ms Nightingale’s famous military hospital was situated hundreds of miles from the frontline.

Unlike Florence, Mary’s hotel near Balaclava was much closer to the fighting. Mary nursed soldiers on the battlefield, often whilst being shot at and became known as ‘Mother Seacole’.

Following the War, Mary moved back to the UK completely destitute. The soldiers she had helped heard about this and came to her aid, arranging a gala & fundraiser for her which over 80,000 people attended.

Mary Seacole is a great role model. Her values of bravery (she always wanted to help the sick and wounded), entrepreneurship (her drive took her to the Crimea under her own steam) and achievement (she remains one of history’s greatest figures) continue to inspire us to this day.

 

#blackhistory #blacklivesmatter #BLM #Nurse