We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to Mary Seacole. Her mother was Jamaican, and her father was a Scottish Lieutenant in the British Army. Being multiracial legally classified her as a “mulatto,” and meant that she could not vote, hold public office, or enter the workforce.
However, Mary acquired nursing skills from her mother who ran a boarding house for sick soldiers. To increase her knowledge and medical expertise, she traveled all over the Caribbean, Central America, and England. In 1854, she returned to England during the height of the Crimean War with a heart to serve. However, the British War Office turned her away. Undeterred, she created the “British Hotel” which was nursing quarters positioned behind the battle lines. She nursed wounded soldiers back to good health. She even traveled to the battlefield seeking out injured soldiers to help. Not only did she save numerous lives, she became well known among all the soldiers who affectionately called her “Mother Seacole.”
In 2004, Mary was voted number one in the 100 Great Black Britons poll. Today, she is celebrated as a pioneering nurse who overcame the tremendous prejudice of being a biracial woman.