BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — On Wednesday, local leaders honored some of the bravest medical professionals and trailblazers in the field.

The room was overflowing with people in Mid-City Baton Rouge General Center as they celebrated some of the first African-American nurses from the 1950s who paved a way for a brighter future.

“It was hard, but we took care of each other,” said Audrey Cotton, one of the first Black Baton Rouge General nurses.

In the mid-1950s, several women stepped foot into Mid-City Baton Rouge General Center, including five women who made history.

“I thought about it as an occupation that I loved. And I also thought about the responsibilities that I had,” said Lusinda Warren.

The ladies arrived in style at the hospital chapel filled to the brim with a crowd watching them get recognized. Warren said it was incredible to see.

“Well, when the limousine came, it was just — and then when he pulled up to the hospital and I looked in, I say, ‘My God,’ I thought about all the times I have walked through that door 11:00 at night, and to see all those people. It was a surprise to me,” said Warren.

They represent the first women to become nurses and serve at this hospital before desegregation, including
Cotton.

“We didn’t care what color you are, what kind of background you came from. You were a patient and we were there to take care of you,” said Cotton.

They battled segregation and racial injustice just to take care of others.

“There was always discrimination. It was always some white patient that didn’t want to be touched and some would say that they didn’t want a Black nurse in the room,” said Cotton.

They were honored with a plaque that will remain as a permanent part of the hospital.

“It was a big surprise and made me feel good. So I felt like a queen. And then I was going to be with people who I hadn’t seen in a little while and just excited about being with everybody,” said Warren.

“I’m glad I was a part of that dream. And I’m glad I live to see that dream come true,” added Warren.

The women who were honored said they didn’t know they would make history but hoped they inspired someone to follow their dream.