HSC to host community event honoring Black Angels’ legacy of nursing innovation

Monday, March 4, 2024

Register for Free Zoom Event - March 6, 1-2pm CST

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth is hosting a free, virtual community event Wednesday featuring the author of a book about the Black nurses who helped cure tuberculosis in New York City’s Sea View Hospital.

Maria Smilios, author of “The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis,” will share the incredible and forgotten story of these pioneering nurses at the event put on by HSC’s Center for Health Policy, College of Nursing, Institute for Health Disparities and The National Research Mentoring Network. “The Black Angels: Stigma and Sickness at Sea View” event will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. on Zoom.

“These are historic stories of infectious disease stigma, health disparities and health inequities that we can learn from today,” said Dr. Waridibo Allison, MD, PhD, FACP, CPE, FIDSA, executive director of the HSC Center for Health Policy. 

In 1929, tuberculosis was killing one in seven people, and white nurses at Sea View, New York’s largest municipal hospital, began quitting. Desperate to avert a public health crisis, city officials recruited Black southern nurses with promises of good pay, a career and an escape from the strictures of Jim Crow.

Spanning the Great Depression and moving through World War II and beyond, Smilios’ 2023 book follows the true story of the “Black Angels.” For 20 years, these nurses risked their lives working while caring for the city’s poorest residents, who languishing in wards waiting to die or became guinea pigs for experimental, often deadly, drugs.

 “We are thrilled to co-host Maria Smilios as she shares this inspiring history,” said Dr. Cindy Weston, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CHSE, FAANP, FAAN, founding dean of the HSC College of Nursing. “The ‘Black Angels’ are outstanding examples of everything we aspire to see in future graduates of the College of Nursing: compassion, grace under pressure, innovative thinking, selfless service and leadership.”  

This fall, HSC’s new College of Nursing will welcome its first students into two degree programs: a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Practice Innovation, pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. These unique programs will allow nursing professionals to advance their careers while meeting an urgent health care need.

“The Black Angels: Stigma and Sickness at Sea View” event is open to students, faculty, staff and community members by registering at unthsc.edu/TheBlackAngels.


From HSC Newsroom - Community by Paula Cobler