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African-American History Month

This February, during Black History Month, the American Red Cross pays tribute to the Black employees, volunteers and donors who contribute to our humanitarian mission every day. To do that, we’d like to honor the Black men and women whose accomplishments were essential to the American Red Cross history and our mission. 

Here are the stories of several people who played a pivotal role in helping the American Red Cross become the organization that it is today:

Honoring Steve Bullock
Steve Bullock culminated his long career at the American Red Cross in 1999, when he was named Acting President of the national agency in Washington, D.C., becoming the first African American to serve in this role. Prior to assuming this position, he worked for the Red Cross in military installations in the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. In 1999, he visited Honduras as it was recovering from Hurricane Mitch to announce that the country would receive $38 million for emergency and relief efforts, making it the largest international disaster relief campaign mounted by the American Red Cross at the time.


A Red Cross Trailblazer: Nurse Frances Elliott Davis

In 1915, Frances Elliott Davis, a professional nurse at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., applied for American Red Cross service. Initially rejected on the basis of race, Davis persisted and in 1918 became the first African American Red Cross nurse. In the service, she was assigned to move to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she provided medical care for the families of service members during WWI. She then served as the director of nurses’ training, stationed in Tuskegee, Alabama, and organized the first training school for African American nurses in Michigan.

The Legacy of Dr. Jerome Holland

In 1979, Dr. Jerome Holland was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to be the chairman of the American Red Cross Board of Governors – making him the first African American to hold this position. Because of his commitment to the Red Cross, he was appointed again in 1982. While serving on the board, Dr. Holland showed a passion for blood research and worked to consolidate growing laboratory operations for the Red Cross Blood Services program. He encouraged Red Cross regions to integrate their volunteers so important services could be extended to the entire community, regardless of a person’s ethnicity or background.

Read more stories about the Black women and men who dedicated their time and expertise to the American Red Cross. 

The American Red Cross is so grateful to these individuals, and to the many others who have given so much to our mission. We are an organization of inclusivity and compassion, and it is an honor to serve alongside volunteers and supporters who make the Red Cross what it is today.

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