Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Historic Red Cross Friendship: Honoring Black History Month

By: Lauren McMinn Clarke, American Red Cross volunteer contributor

Trailblazing can be lonely work. It is important to have supporters around when a groundbreaking path is forged.
Frederick Douglass, photo courtesy PBS
When nurse Clara Barton (1821-1912) was trying to rally national support to create an American Red Cross, she found wonderful encouragement in African American antislavery author and activist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895).

Barton had already been an avid supporter of the Black Civil Rights movement; during the war, she aided not only soldiers from both North and South, but she also aided wounded soldiers regardless of their race.

Douglass and Barton met right after the Civil War, while Barton was on a nationwide tour giving speeches about the war.

Douglass lent his support in 1882 to the Red Cross “Appeal to the American People” to raise money to assist victims of the Mississippi River floods. He continued to support Barton and the American Red Cross, becoming one of the founding members of the organization.

Some have said that Frederick Douglass's early participation in the creation of the American Red Cross paved the way for Steve D. Bullock to become the organization's first African American Acting President in 1999.

During this Black History Month, we are proud to honor the contributions of humanitarian Frederick Douglass to the American Red Cross.

**This story originally posted on February 3, 2014**


  1. I've always look up to people who stand up for others like Frederick Douglas.

  2. Some other Red Cross leaders to add.
    Charles Drew founder of Red Cross Blood in 1940
    Jerome Holland Chair of the Board 1979
    Gwen Jackson Chair of Volunteers 1988
    more at

  3. Thank you Chris! We've got some other stories coming, but we werent' familiar with Gwen Jackson so thanks for that tip!

  4. Chris, be sure to see today's great blog from our volunteer writer, Suzanne Wiley. She did a great job capturing Jerome Holland!


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