As Black History Month comes to an end, I would be remiss if I didn’t honor the memory of my maternal ancestors, Emerline and her daughter Mariah Jones, who was my great-great grandmother and passed their gift of “birthing” onto myself and cousin, Dr. Sheryanne Wade.
Through ancestry research, I discovered that Emeline was born in 1820 and her ancestors originated from the same South African community as Nelson Mandela. You can't imagine the pride I experienced knowing that I am a descendant of Nelson Mandela. It explained why the women in my family were advocates who were fierce and feisty.
Emeline was a midwife, who delivered babies on the Jones plantation in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. In 1850, she gave birth to Mariah, who was my mother's great grandmother who also delivered babies throughout Dinwiddie county, both white and black until the time of her death in 1936.
I didn't seek obstetrics as a career; obstetrics found me, a humble black woman from Brooklyn, New York who was a social worker at the time, attempting to create a small footprint of change in an ever-expanding universe. Fate and my passion for making a difference guided me to a delivery room on a hot summer night at Harlem Hospital where I witnessed my first delivery and found my true calling.
Pregnant moms, I will continue to fight for your safety, and the safety of your unborn babies and others who are committed like me will do the same. Obstetrics is not an “industry” as it has been called by some who knows nothing about this sacred profession yet forge ahead with self-serving agendas.
Each day that I serve you, I am honoring the sweet memory of my ancestors.
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