NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln celebrates diversity, African-American history

NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln recently celebrated Black History Month as part of its overall celebration of the diversity of its staff and patients as well as of the communities it serves.

Among the Black History Month celebrations was a monthlong art exhibit featuring Wendy Wiggans. Other events included lectures, films and a “Bake Off/Bake Sale.” (The winner of the Bake Off was Lisa Kavannaugh, Quality Management at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, shown in an attached photo with her winning creamy cheese/carrot cake.)

The grand finale of the month of celebrations was the “Honoring Our Own” luncheon Friday, Feb. 24, celebrated by employees, Local 1180’s vice president and the Alumnae Association of the Lincoln School for Nurses. Among those honored at the event were two employees who accepted honors on behalf of relatives well-known as civil rights icons.

The first honor went to the Lincoln School for Nurses, the first school dedicated to teach the nursing arts specifically to Black students—all girls. Attending the event were five surviving graduates, members of the Alumnae Association of the Lincoln School for Nurses (which closed in the 1960s). Founded in 1898, the Lincoln School for Nurses graduated its first class of six in 1900. In 1905 the school was registered by the Board of Regents of the State University of New York. In 1926 when Lincoln Hospital was sold to the city of New York, the Nursing School was retained in the building. With the proceeds of the sale of the hospital, the Nursing School built a fully equipped Nursing facility with private rooms and baths for the nurses, an infirmary for the students and a tennis court. The school was staffed with doctors from Lincoln Hospital and practice teachers from Teacher’s College. Lincoln Medical Center is proud to host the Alumnae Association of the Lincoln School for Nurses’ monthly meeting.

Cheryl Baker, director of Human Resources, accepted honors on behalf of her great aunt, Constance Baker Motley. Baker Motley was a civil rights activist and lawyer, born in New Haven, Conn. She was the first woman elected as a New York State Senator and Manhattan Borough president. She was the first Black woman to be accepted into Columbia Law School. She was assistant attorney to Thurgood Marshall, arguing (and winning) the case Brown v. Board of Education (1955). She was appointed to the United States District Court in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, making her the first African-American woman to hold a federal judgeship.

Teresa Bethune-Bellinger, director of the Women, Infants and Children Program, accepted the honor on behalf of her great aunt, Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune was an educator, having started a school for Black girls in Florida in 1904, which is now Bethune-Cookman University. She became the first Black woman to serve in a presidential administration after President Franklin Roosevelt appointed her in 1935 as the head of the office of Minority Affairs. Bethune used her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt and her authority as a “Black cabinet” member to lobby for integration in the pilot program during World War II, which created the Tuskegee airmen at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.