Members of the first graduating class of the Hospital and Training School for Nurses pose for this photo taken at the end of the 19th century. Founded in 1897 by seven African-American medical professionals, the Cannon Street facility allowed for the training of black nurses and a place for black doctors to practice, as both were denied access at the City Hospital and Old Folks Home, according to MUSC’s Waring Historical Library. It was the first nursing school in the state and the ninth black institution of its kind in the country. The South Carolina Encyclopedia notes that, at the time, the death rate of African-American Charlestonians was twice that of whites, and the school aimed to change this by treating patients of color fairly regardless of their ability to pay. In 1899, a free treatment clinic for children was established to further carry out its vision. The hospital later moved to Courtenay Street, where MUSC’s Ashley River Tower now stands, and was renamed the McClennan-Banks Memorial Hospital after founder and medical director, Dr. Alonzo C. McClennan, and first head nurse, Anna DeCosta Banks. It operated until 1976, when hospital integration gave African Americans access to previously unattainable health care options. Though the fight for health care equality continues, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude not only to the dedicated professionals caring for patients in these especially challenging times, but the trailblazers, such as these nurses, who began to pave the way for proper medical treatment for all.