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Arlington’s First Black Nurse Honored During Juneteenth Celebration


Margaret Taylor made history when she became the first black nurse to practice in the city of Arlington, Texas, where she has worked for nearly 50 years. She started her career waking up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the bus, so she could travel 13 miles to the segregated I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth to finish her education. She continued her morning routine when she eventually became a nurse at Arlington Memorial hospital, now known as Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.

“You had in your plan that Sister Taylor would break a barrier that needed to be broken,” Rev. James P. Thompson of Arlington’s Mt. Olive Baptist Church said during a recent prayer. “You chose the person that was able to handle it with integrity and with spiritual guidance of your leadership.”

Taylor, now 82, was recognized on Monday for her historic accomplishments during a ceremony at the hospital where she has devoted so much of her life to caring for others. Many black people traveled outside of Arlington to pursue opportunities in Fort Worth when the schools were segregated. But traveling for school wasn’t easy as a person of color.

Some students had to pay a fee to take the bus on top of the cost to attend school. These barriers made it difficult for people of color to advance their training and education. According to a report completed for the city of Arlington and the Texas Historical Commission, “few of Arlington’s Black students continued their education beyond the eighth grade until the late 1960s.”

Things started to change in 1965 when the schools in Arlington were forced to integrate. After graduating from I.M. Terrell, Taylor enrolled in a one-year nursing program at Arlington Memorial Hospital. She graduated in 1967 and went on to become the first black nurse in the city, as noted by the Historical Commission.

“I have much love, respect and honor for you for paving the way for us in 1967,” Janet Hicks, a longtime friend and former colleague of Taylor, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Her colleagues remember Taylor for her determination, bright smile, and spotless white uniforms. The nurse would even scrub her shoelaces before work to maintain appearances.

But Taylor never set out to make history. In fact, she didn’t become aware of her achievements until later in life.

“Even though this moment is celebrating her, she’s not making this moment about her,” said Rev. Patrick Taylor, Taylor’s son. “That’s just who she is.”

Tayla Vaugh, Taylor’s granddaughter, said she first learned about Taylor’s legacy when she was in her 20s. The two women have started recording the family’s memories to preserve black history in the state. It is part of a project commissioned by the Arlington Black History Community Archive, a project of the Arlington Public Library System.

During the ceremony, which was held in honor of Juneteenth, Taylor couldn’t help but get emotional even though she doesn’t like to bring attention to herself. The holiday has deep ties to the Fort Worth area. The last slaves in Texas were finally told they were free on June 19, 1865, nearly two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the U.S.

The area is also home to the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” long-time resident Opal Lee, who spent decades working to make June 19th a national holiday.


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