By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
In observance of National Nurses Month and National Nurses Week, which was celebrated May 12, the University of Washington School of Nursing announced the renaming of its Center for Anti-Racism in Nursing to the Manning Price Spratlen Center for Anti-Racism & Equity in Nursing.
The new name commemorates the groundbreaking work and lives of Frankie Manning, MSN, RN and Dr. Lois Price Spratlen– two Black nurses who fought for equity and created strategies and pipelines to diversify the nursing workforce.
“This is an honor, Dr. Spratlen and I worked together for years, so this is indeed an honor,” says Manning.
Nurses are on the frontline of health care and are largely responsible for the care of individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by historic racial inequities. The University of Washington School of Nursing established the first and only center for anti-racism in nursing in 2021.
Manning is known as a nurse devoted to public service and served in several roles within the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, on professional boards, as a faculty member for several academic nursing programs and through her service in the U.S. Army. She served on UW School of Nursing’s faculty search committees to broaden diversity recruitment. Manning was selected as the first nurse to serve on the King County Board of Health in 2003 and is a long-standing board member of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization, which provides scholarships to students of African heritage pursuing degrees in nursing. In 2004, she was appointed by Governor Locke to serve as board member for a three-year term on the Washington State Board of Health. She has been characterized by her nursing colleagues as a strong leader, visionary nurse, mentor, coach, and guide.
Dr. Lois Price Spratlen, who passed away in 2013, left a legacy of leadership and contributed much to the nursing field, most notably her documentation of the experiences and lives of Black women nurses in Seattle. Her research, writing, and advocacy addressed the needs of Black professional nurses and other nurses of color. Dr. Price Spratlen served as the President of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization where she established an endowment fund that provides scholarships to students of African heritage whose studies lead to careers in professional nursing. She authored the book “African American Registered Nurses in Seattle: The Struggle for Opportunity and Success” and was a Professor of Psychosocial and Community Health Nursing at the UW’s School of Nursing where she was appointed as Ombudsman for Sexual Harassment in 1982. Dr. Price Spratlen’s career was one of advocacy where she challenged the “power-elite” in the nursing profession to pursue more democratic and diverse policies and practices.
“What is inspirational to me is that the school of nursing has come a long way since 1949, when our organization – The Mary Mahoney Black Nurses Association — first started,” says Manning. “Back then they would not admit Black students to the school of nursing, which was a state-run school, so this gives me hope for the future to think that we’ve come from that part of our lives to the point where we have two Black nurses who the center of anti-racism is named for.”
“The Center is housed in the number one school of Nursing in the USA,” added Manning. “I am honored that it carries my name along with that of my dear friend and colleague in the promotion of professional nursing education for all, the late Dr. Lois Price Spratlen. The Center gives UW an opportunity to lead the efforts in reducing health disparities, eliminating racism in nursing, and improving care to all.”
Monica Rose McLemore, the Interim Director of Manning Price Spratlen Center for Anti Racism in Nursing, believes the center deserved to be named after two of the most iconic nurses in the Pacific Northwest.
According to McLemore, the center is the first and currently the only center of its kind in schools of nursing. Most schools of nursing are housed in schools of medicine or schools of public health, there are few in schools of humanity.
McLemore and the advisory council thought it was important to change the name because of its origin. The council also wanted a name for the center in a way that was respectful, that really puts the center on the map as the first in the country.
“So, I said wait a minute, there are two Black nurses who have been affiliated and I think it would be really important for us to include them in the name,” says McLemore. “It was suggested that we shouldn’t name the center after Black nurses and I said, “why not? It was named after a white nurse who would not allow Black nurses to come study here.”
“[In my opinion] it was important for them to consider them as legitimate naming option for two reasons. Number one academia has a long history where naming is bought, you donate money, so naming is bought. This is a choice of where it was earned,” added McLemore. “Number two, to right a historic wrong for Black nurses, who were historically excluded to come to be educated. I think it’s important that students who are coming to the UW have to look up these two women and their work. Because the center is named after them.”
Upon hearing the news of the Center’s new name, the family of the late Dr. Lois Price Spratlen shared the following statement:
“Our mother, the late Dr. Lois Price Spratlen, was a change-agent who often fought for justice through education. In a 2005 interview, talking about becoming an ombudsman, she said, “…I think that it’s absolutely imperative you have a sense of justice and you’re really willing to work with all members of the conflict to bring about the most equitable outcome that you can and that you don’t work for people, you work with them…” In this same spirit, her efforts were instrumental in leading the University of Washington to acknowledge and reform past practices that restricted the enrollment of Black students and those from other historically underrepresented groups. In acknowledging our mother’s impactful legacy, we welcome the Center’s renaming as an empowering tribute.”