Thereasea D. (TD) Elder was on the pilot program to integrate public health nurses in 1960s Charlotte. Her supervisors said that integration was going to happen, the black nurses would have to sell themselves to the public – and then assigned Elder to a neighborhood stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan.
Lillian Herron remembers white male patients at newly integrated Charlotte Memorial Hospital cursing her even as she worked to save their lives. To this day she is still haunted by the memory of a white man dying of a bleeding ulcer who was still cursing her as he drew his last breath.
Elder and Herron both worked at all-black Good Samaritan Hospital. A number of people in their Forum audience were born there or had been treated there. Elder went on to public health nursing, Herron to the VA and then the Department of Social Services.
The speakers’ introductory comments were followed by a Q&A.