From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Wilkes, Gracie Rice

(born: 1912  -  died: 1998) Gracie Rice was born in Kentucky and grew up in Lexington. In 1930, she was one of the three African American women admitted to the City Hospital nurses' training program in Cleveland, OH, according to "MetroHealth celebrates Black History month by remembering its history," Call & Post, 02/20/2008, p. 2. The article goes on to say that Gracie Rice learned about the program through the black newspaper, Dayton Forum. The three nursing students graduated in 1933 and were hired by City Hospital: Gracie Rice, Dorothea Davis, and Edna Wooley. According to Gracie Rice Wilkes's entry in the Ohio Death Index, she had more than five years of college and was a registered nurse.

Prior to the late 1920s, African Americans in Cleveland had not been admitted to hospital internship programs or nurses training programs. The integration of the nursing program at City Hospital came as a result of the political power gained by Blacks at the end of the 1920s; during their election, three city council members had promised that, if elected, they would fight to end the discrimination at City Hospital. The editor of the Cleveland Gazette claimed the fight was led by the newspaper and the move was opposed by the "Blossom Triplets": city councilmen Clayborne George, Roy Bundy, and Larry Payne. For more see Cleveland: a metropolitan reader, by W. D. Keating, N. Krumholz and D. C. Perry; "Read! Read!! The rounder on what's doing," Cleveland Gazette, 10/15/1938, p. 2; A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland, 1870-1930, by K. L. Kusmer; and Making a Place for Ourselves: the Black Hospital Movement, 1920-1945, by V. N. Gamble.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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“Wilkes, Gracie Rice,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-11-19 21:49:56