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The American College of Nurse-Midwives Honors Black History Month

February 7, 2019
Contact: Maura Christopher

ACNM celebrates the contributions of the Grand Midwives and those who followed.

During Black History Month, as Americans celebrate and reflect on the contributions of black Americans to the rich heritage and history of the United States, the American College of Nurse-Midwives honors, recognizes, and remembers the contributions of black midwives. Their legacy stems from the Grand midwives of the South to the black midwives of today who are raising their voices, serving women and families, and striving to end the shameful disparities in maternal health care, which have led to maternal mortality rates for black women that are 3 to 4 times higher than rates for white women.

“Not only during February, but throughout the year, we urge all Americans to discover, honor, and remember the essential, often unrecognized role black midwives played--and continue to play--in communities and cities throughout America,” stated Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FACNM, FAAN, president of ACNM. “As an organization, we respect, value, and celebrate the central place of midwives of color both in the United States and within our organization. Black History Month is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the work that we know needs to be done to to end the disparities behind today’s maternal mortality crisis and to become a more diverse, inclusive profession at every level. We know race concordant care results in better outcomes for black women and families.”

Beginning with the period of enslavement, Grand midwives were essential pillars of their communities who provided lifesaving care, critical knowledge, and wellsprings of values and traditions. They served legions of pregnant women of all races and their families. They were also the only source of health care for countless black Americans who were barred from access to hospitals and other sources of care during the eras of enslavement and enforced segregation. As institutionalized racist policies systematically decimated their ranks, the Grand midwives fought for the right to serve and laid the foundation for the work black midwives have carried on since then on behalf of women and families and to diversify the profession and ACNM itself. 

“The work and lives of the Grand midwives inspire us all,” said Sheri Sesay-Tuffour, PhD, CAE, chief executive officer of ACNM. “Black History Month gives us a dedicated opportunity to celebrate the lives and work of historic women such as  Onnie Lee Logan and Margaret Charles Smith, and more contemporary black ACNM midwives such as Maude CallenArmentia Tripp Jarrett, Betty Watts Carrington, and Minta Uzodinma, whose contributions to midwifery are only now just being recognized.”

February is also is a time to reflect on the struggles of black midwives more recently, as described in the ACNM’s 2015 document Shifting the Frame: A Report on Diversity and Inclusion in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and to move forward on the solutions suggested in Shifting the Frame. It is also a time to highlight ACNM’s Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy and to listen and learn from the lives and experiences of ACNM midwives of color.

About ACNM

With 6500 members, ACNM is the professional association that represents certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) in the United States. ACNM promotes excellence in midwifery education, clinical practice, and research. With roots dating to 1929, our members are primary care providers for women throughout the lifespan, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecologic and reproductive health. ACNM provides research, administers and promotes continuing education programs, establishes clinical practice standards, and creates liaisons with state and federal agencies and members of Congress to increase the visibility and recognition of midwifery care.

American College of Nurse-Midwives
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