Aida Overton Walker

International Stage Star

Aida Overton was born Feb. 14, 1880 in New York City. She was the foremost African-American stage artist in her era. She was the leading black female cakewalk dancer and ragtime singer. She was a pivotal part of the transition from minstrelsy to all-black musicals, and one of the first black international superstars. Aida Overton Walker died in New York City on October 11, 1914.

Adah Thoms
Nursing Pioneer

Adah Thoms worked to “improve nurse training, to organize and develop the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN), and to provide equal employment opportunities in the Red Cross and the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.” Her Pathfinders: A History of the Progress of Colored Graduate Nurses (1929) was the first book to record the struggles of black nurses.
Adah Belle Samuels was born in Richmond, Virginia on January 12, about 1870, to Harry and Melvina Samuels. In the 1890’s, she briefly married and took on the last name Thoms.
Adah Thoms, as president of the NACGN (the American Nursing Association denied membership to African Americans) was instrumental in the acceptance of the Army Nursing Corps and the Red Cross’ acceptance of black nurses during World War I. Thoms also helped to establish the Blue Circle Nurses, black nurses whom the Circle for Negro War Relief paid “to work in local communities, instructing poor rural black people on the importance of sanitation, proper diet and appropriate clothing.” In 1921 she raised the prestige of all black nurses when the assistant surgeon general of the army appointed her to the Woman’s Advisory Council of Venereal Disesase of the United States Public Health Service.
Ada Thoms also crusaded for women’s voting rights. When the nineteenth amendment became law in 1920, she organized a campaign to encourage NACGN members to vote.
Ada Thoms died in Harlem on February 21, 1943. In 1976 she was inducted into nursing’s Hall of Fame for her advancements in training, organizing and ehnancing employment opportunities for the black nurses of America.

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