In 1945, a group of black registered nurses in Jackson, Mississippi saw an urgent need for an organized nurses’ group. The challenges they faced individually were insurmountable at best given the climate for black – and especially black women who dominated the field at that time. These nurses worked tirelessly to form a group that could provide resources and support for professionals who nurses were so desperately needed in our state. The steering committee saw many late-night meetings, which forced them to pool resources to create something bigger than all of them could create individually. The City of Jackson and surrounding areas eventually saw their bold efforts to fruition as the then-dubbed Black Registered Nurses’ Club became a reality.

In the late fifties, the name was changed to the Eliza Pillars Registered Nurses’ Club in honor of Miss Eliza Farish Pillars. Miss Pillars was the first black registered nurse to be employed by the Mississippi State Board of Health on February 1, 1926. Her portrait, as of 1991, now hangs in Mississippi State Board of Health foyer. Miss Pillars was born in Jackson, Mississippi on April 26, 1892 and died June 15, 1970 at the age of 78. Miss Pillars is buried Garden Memorial Park in Jackson.

Miss Pillars was the fourteenth and last recipient of the Mary Mahoney Medal for distinguished service to nursing and the community at the Essex House in New York, January 25, 1957. This medal was the highest award given by the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses.

The vision of our predecessors continued to manifest and in 1984, organizational plans for the State Association began. The association was divided into seven thriving statewide districts and the name was changed to its current nom de plume – The Eliza Pillars Registered Nurses of Mississippi (EPRNM).

Past State Presidents

Name District Year
Eulanda Armstrong District IV 2013-2015
Kaye Killings Mayfield District IV 2011-2013
Betty Young District V 2009-2011
Barbara Field District I 2007-2009
Dr. Audwin Fletcher District IV 2005-2007
Cheryl Rainey District I 2003-2005
Dr. Sonja Fuqua District IV 2001-2003
Meg Brown District VI 1999-2001
Stella Harris District IV 1997-1999
Dr. Renée Williams District IV 1995-1997
Delores Johnson District V 1993-1995
Norma West District VI 1991-1993
Rita Wray District IV 1989-1991
Margaret Johnson District IV 1985-1989