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

Brown, Viola Davis

(born: 1936  -  died: 2017) 

Viola D. Brown was born in Lexington, KY, the daughter of Donnie and Mable Bryan Davis. In 1955, she was the first African American admitted to a nursing school in Lexington. Brown attended the Nazareth School of Nursing, which was affiliated with St. Joseph Hospital, where Brown would be promoted to hospital supervisor in 1960. Her promotion was another first for African Americans in Lexington. In 1972, Brown and Lizzie Conner were the first two African American RNs to receive advanced practice as Nurse Practitioners in Lexington. In 1980, Gov. John Y. Brown, Jr. appointed Viola Brown to the position of Executive Director of the State Office of Public Health Nursing; she held the post for 19 years. Viola Brown was inducted into the University of Kentucky College of Public Health Hall of Fame in 2004. For more see L. Blackford, "Her essay won a prize, but she couldn't go to ceremony," Lexington Herald Leader, 09/09/04, Main News section, p. A1; and V. D. Brown and J. Marfall, "Swinging bridges of opportunity and challenges: memoirs of an African American nurse practitioner pioneer on providing primary care for the underserved," Journal of Cultural Diversity, vol. 12, issue 3 (Fall 2005), pp. 107-15.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Journal of cultural diversity (periodical)

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“Brown, Viola Davis,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2019-02-11 14:46:12