Ruth Taylor Ballard, a nursing pioneer in the Jim Crow south, is a 1953 graduate of Mobile County Training (High) School of Plateau, Alabama. Ms. Ballard is one of seven children whose parents instilled in her and her siblings, the value of an education. Ms. Ballard made history by becoming one of nineteen blacks to graduate from the first Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Program offered by Mobile County Public School System in 1955. Prior to this time, an African American who wanted to study nursing had to travel to places like Selma, Montgomery, and Tuskegee. Few had the means or the ability to do so, and those who did were denied admitting privileges at all but one of Mobile’s hospitals. Ms. Ballard earned her Registered Nurse (RN) certification continue to practice nursing for over 40 years. Ms. Ballard worked in a number of nursing environments throughout her profession She began her career at Providence Hospital and cap stoned her nursing career as a psychiatric nurse at Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon, Alabama where she excelled and found her niche.
Ms. Ballard is a trusted, well-known, and respected leader in the Africatown Community. She is an active member of historic Union Baptist Church and supports many community events related to Africatown including the Annual Youth Kite Making Project, various community recognitions, educational programs, and historical celebrations. She is an active member of Mobile County Training School Alumni Association where she serves as membership chairperson. She is on the Board of Directors for the Africatown environmental and community organization, C.H.E.S.S.
As part of her ongoing desire that all people move towards healing, Ms. Ballard participated in the “August 2019 Day of Healing & Bell Ringing”, commemorating 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the first permanent English Colony in North America. As part of the ceremony, Ms. Ballard had the honor of releasing 110 butterflies, representing the number of enslaved persons who were illegally shipped to Mobile on the Clotilda. Because of her unending commitment to the community of Africatown, Ms. Ballard is one of the three founders of the Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation upon its incorporation in 2019.
Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation
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