As we celebrate Black History Month, we pay tribute to the struggles and achievements of African American Midwives and their contributions that have shaped our nation.
Join ACNM in recognizing the history and enduring contributions of Black Midwives in the United States, including:
- Margaret Charles Smith, who practiced in Alabama before midwives and home births were legal. Her birthing stories are captured in a book titled, “Listen to Me Good – The Story of an Alabama Midwife,” co-authored with Linda Janet Holmes.
- Onnie Lee Logan, also a Black Midwife in Alabama. Both her mother and grandmother were midwives; she learned from them and carried on the family tradition. A professor fascinated with Onnie’s life and history documented her story in a book titled, “Motherwit – An Alabama Midwife’s Story.”
- Maude Callen, a nurse and midwife providing birthing and healthcare for over 50 years in South Carolina and other parts of the South. Her work was featured in 1951 in a beautiful photo essay, “Nurse Midwife,” published in Life Magazine.
Today, Black Midwives continue the dreams of their ancestors, serving their communities with care and advocacy, despite facing numerous structural oppressions. Midwives such as Armentia Tripp Jarrett, CNM, FACNM, the first African American recipient of the Hattie Hemschmeyer Award (1992); Betty Watts Carrington, CNM, FACNM, EdD, the first African American ACNM Vice President of the Board (1973-74) and second African American Hattie Award recipient (2001); and Gwen Spears, CNM, PhD, FACNM, Sharon Robinson, CNM, MSN and Shirley White-Walker, CNM, MEd, FACNM, the first African Americans on the A.C.N.M. Foundation Board, who were integral in the advancement of the Foundation’s Midwives of Color (MOC) Scholarship Fund, are some of our contemporary heroes.
There is still a need for more midwives of color to serve the people of this country. The United States has some of the worse maternal morbidity and mortality rates compared to other nations. Increasing the number of Black Midwives can play a major role in reducing health disparities, particularly in their own communities. During this Black History Month, we honor our past as we honor the lives and the legacy of those who went on before, and we honor our future so their dreams will live on. Take the time to celebrate a Black Midwife today!
Quickening is the official member publication and digital news site for the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Content is written by and for ACNM members and staff.