CU’s first Black nurse defied racism, withstood disease and made history serving others

With no role model, “Zippy” Parks Hammond fearlessly blazed new trails for minorities then and today ~

Seventeen years before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired masses in Washington with his speech, “I Have a Dream,” a young Black woman nicknamed Zippy in Denver was already living her dream. In 1946, ‘Zippy’ Zipporah Parks Hammond became the first Black woman to graduate with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Colorado School of Nursing. She went on to join the war effort as a nurse, tend to minority children with polio, contract tuberculosis, document African American history, raise a family, and become the first minority director of medical records at a hospital in Colorado. Every dream was hard-fought. From all accounts, Zippy accomplished them with grace and dignity.

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