Lula M. Edwards, pioneering African American nurse, activist dies at 92
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - When you think about the Civil Rights movement, historical figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Congressman John R. Lewis come to mind.
Often, the movement’s unsung heroes remain unseen. Lula M. Edwards is one of those unsung heroes.
Edwards was a pioneering African American nurse who treated the injured Civil Rights activists and protesters on Bloody Sunday in 1965.
“The protesters, they could only be treated at Good Samaritan Hospital. That was the hospital that treated African Americans and other Civil Rights,” Stewart said. “They treated everyone but particularly a lot of the Civil Rights activists, both black and white, were treated at Good Samaritan Hospital.”
Good Samaritan Hospital was one of the few places African Americans could go for health care. Stewart said Edwards worked there for more than 20 years before the hospital’s closure.
“She was off and was called into work,” Stewart said of Edwards’ role on Bloody Sunday. “She often talked about the scores of people that came in non-stop were bludgeoned and injured and how she helped them, cared for them and treated them.”
Stewart said Edwards overcame adversity from a young age. The daughter of sharecroppers, Edwards was encouraged to pursue her education. She was a part of the first class to finish the 12th grade at Keith High School, located in Orrville.
From there, she attended Selma University before changing her career path and studying to become a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital, graduating in 1953.
Stewart said pursuing an education was something she instilled in her children and grandchildren.
“She valued education, she valued service, she valued faith. Most of all she valued faith,” Robert Stewart, Edwards’s grandson said. “We are the progeny, her descendants, are the progeny of her sacrifices.
Edwards earned the nickname “Mother Edwards” and Stewart said she often treated the community inside her own home.
“She was the mother to all who came into her house,” Stewart said. “She had an open door, lots of the community were there.”
Stewart said the predominantly African American community would otherwise not have access to health care without her.
“At some point, she was called, people called her a doctor, their doctor, even though she wasn’t that she was a nurse, an LPN,” Stewart said.
Civil Rights activist Albert Southall grew up in the community where Edwards lived.
“To the neighborhood, she was… “Ms. Lula.” I am blessed to have known and touch(ed) by Ms. Lula. I am blessed to have been (known) by Ms. Lula as Albert,” Southall said in a Facebook post.
Edwards was a member of the Historic Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church, where she served faithfully as Mother of the church. She was also a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Selma.
Stewart, who is running for state Senate, said his professional life wouldn’t be possible without his grandmother. He added that her work had an extraordinary impact.
“I feel like I am able to do that because of her sacrifices in the Civil Rights and voting rights movement,” Stewart added.
Edwards passed away on Feb. 1 at the age of 92. Services celebrating her life will be held Saturday at noon at Serenity Memorial Gardens.
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