“B” is for Banks, Anna De Costa (1869-1930)
A native of Charleston, Banks was one of the first students to earn a diploma from the Hampton Institute’s Training School for Nurses in Virginia and became a registered nurse in 1893. In 1898 she was named the first head nurse and dedicated her life to nursing and seeking equitable health care for African Americans. Promoted to superintendent of nurses, Banks devoted more than thirty-two years to the training of nurses. She noted that racial violence intensified the need for emergency services and nursing schools for Blacks, and she stated that victims of racially motivated assaults had fled to her hospital from throughout South Carolina. When Anna DeCosta Banks died in 1930, she was believed to be the oldest trained nurse in South Carolina at that time.