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Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill

Azira Gonzalez Hill, referred to as Atlanta’s Angel for her works as a civil rights activist and nurse, was born in Holguin, Cuba, on October 28, 1923, to a large working class family of eight siblings. As a young woman, Hill worked diligently as a student to provide opportunities that would enable her to flourish outside of Cuba; because of her academic achievements, she was finally afforded the opportunity to come to the United States to study through her church. Hill attended Bethune Cookman, Morris Brown, and Georgia State University, ultimately becoming a registered nurse. Hill married Jesse Hill, a prominent civil rights figure, with whom she had two daughters.

Hill worked as a nurse at Grady Hospital Educational Department, Price High School, and Ralph Bunche Middle School, before her retirement. After her retirement, Hill remained an active member of Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church; the Azalea Links, Inc.; the Inquirer Literary Club; the Circlelets; and the Quettes. Hill also founded the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which named its scholarship fund in her honor. Hill has been involved with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center’s Board of Directors; the Board of Directors of the Center for Puppetry Arts; the Southeastern Flower Show; the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and St. Joseph’s Mercy Care. In 2008, Hill was named a life director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, an honor which at the time only belonged to five other individuals.

Hill has received awards from the Association of the National Negro Musicians for promoting Black music and musicians, and the Martin Luther King Federal Commission for her service. Hill also received the Golden Rule Award for community service from J.C. Penney; the Ralph Bunche Middle School Medal; the School Nurses Association for Merit and Distinction; the Lexus Leader of the Arts Award; and a Mercy Care Award for Service.

Accession Number

A2005.184

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/4/2005

Last Name

Hill

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Gonzalez Sanchez

Schools

Boylan-Haven School

Bethune-Cookman University

Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

First Name

Azira

Birth City, State, Country

Holguin

HM ID

HIL10

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa

Favorite Quote

It's Going To Get Better.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

10/28/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

Cuba

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Civil rights activist and registered nurse Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill (1923 - ) has had a long and prolific career in Atlanta in the areas of school health care and civil rights. After her retirement, Hill became involved in various philanthropic endeavors, most notably her involvement with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, for which she was named a lifetime director in 2008.

Employment

Price High School

Grady Memorial Hospital

Bunche Middle School

Big Bethel AME Church

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill narrates her photographs

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her mother supporting the family after her father's death

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill recalls moving to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her childhood in Holguin, Cuba

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her childhood home in Holguin, Cuba

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes the diversity of her neighborhood in Holguin, Cuba

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers a supportive teacher from her elementary school years

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her middle school experiences in Holguin, Cuba

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her experiences at Boylan-Haven School in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her personality and aspirations as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes attending church in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers experiencing exclusion at Boylan-Haven School in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill explains her decision to attend Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill talks about leaving Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers returning to Cuba briefly after obtaining her nursing license

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes how Jesse Hill courted her

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill recalls the strict regulations at Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers having her two children while working as a nurse

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her return to work as a school nurse

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill recalls her and her husband's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill reflects upon her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill talks about her connections to Cuba

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill reflects upon the reception of Latino immigrants in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill talks about her philanthropic work

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her husband, Jesse Hill

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill talks about her grandchildren's accomplishments

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes the rewards of nursing

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes her concerns for the African American and Latino communities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill explains her values

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill explains the importance of history

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her best friends

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill talks about Big Bethel A.M.E. Church in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill describes youth programs at Big Bethel A.M.E. Church

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill remembers her childhood in Holguin, Cuba
Azira Gonzalez Sanchez Hill recalls her and her husband's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
Transcript
In terms of early memories, can you describe what family life was like when you were in Cuba--holidays, special events, or just daily life in your neighborhood?$$In the neighborhood, we had a pretty large house. And my brothers played all kinds of instruments. And so that she [Hill's mother, Dominga Sanchez Gonzalez] could control us, I suppose, we were not allowed to go out too much. But the neighborhood could come to our house, and so, they would come and play music. At that time, there was no radio. We didn't have any radio, but they did--I had, I had plenty of music--all kinds, not just salsa, and all these other thing. But I knew [Johann Sebastian] Bach, and [Ludwig van] Beethoven, and all that, 'cause my brothers were, you know, serious musicians, and that was fun. And some days, we read poetry, and play music, and everybody play, and had a good time. And holidays are wonderful, because, you know, everybody come. If you were a friend of any of my brothers, you could come to my house, and that was fun. And there was only one family that I was allowed to go to, and they were three sisters. Since I didn't have much--I had a sister about ten years younger than I, so we were not peers, you know. And so, that she would allow me to, you know, interact with those, that family that had these three daughters. And that was fun. In fact then, we all married in the same dress (laughter).$If you could, share with me, maybe, the name of some of the associations that you belong to professionally.$$Oh, I've done so many things. I, you know, during the Civil Rights Movement, you know, I didn't have any other choice but to join. My husband, [Jesse] Hill, was chair of the All-Citizens Registration Committee, so I became a registrar, and, you know, could register people to vote. And so, we used to go to churches, and mass meetings, and places like that, and register to vote people. Then, when [HistoryMaker] Charlayne [Hunter-Gault] and Hamilton [Holmes]'s application, and all the turmoil and went through that, you know, I was there, you know, fixing foods, and just being there. You had to support your husband. Political rallies, and mass meetings, and all that. The only thing I didn't do was to--I didn't march. Only one time, and that was the demonstration on the [Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta] Civic Center [Atlanta, Georgia] at something about they tried to integrate the dentists' professional meeting that they were having there. And other than that, I would--did sit-ins, Mrs. [Otelia Hackney] Russell and I, you know, went to, used to be, store across the street from The Ritz-Carlton [Atlanta, Georgia]--I can't remember the name now, but they had a restaurant and Macy's--$$Which is--$$--but anyway, they--we just went inside in their dining room. And when we got there, they didn't serve us--they just closed. They closed the dining room, so we just got up and left. And then, there was in Lenox Square [Atlanta, Georgia], there was another restaurant, and we did that, too. And the third one was (unclear) that was in Locust Street, and that was the only one that I really got upset and frightened (laughter), because we were--it was a delicatessen. And so, we were trying to get in to order--it was sandwiches and things--and the police came. And the minute police came, I have to go--I couldn't, I just could not. Well, [Jesse] Hill and I had made the promise to each other that we would not get arrested, because--well, I'm a foreigner, you know, I could be deported. At that time, I don't think I was even a citizen. And then, too, the girls [Nancy Hill Cook and Azira Hill Kendall] were small, and we didn't have any relatives in town, so somebody had to be, you know, there to--over them. In addition to that, he was the contact person to bail out those that were arrested. So, he couldn't be arrested himself. So, that was one of the arrangements that, you know, that were made beforehand.

The Honorable Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

Shirley Ann Nathan-Pulliam was born on May 20, 1939, in the Parish of Trelawny, Jamaica, West Indies. Her mother was a seamstress and retail store buyer and her father worked as a builder and carpenter. She earned her high school diploma from Mico Practicing School in Kingston, Jamaica in 1956. She fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming a nurse when she attended Bootham Park Hospital School of Nursing in Yorkshire England. While studying in England she met her husband, a United States Army soldier, they married and moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1960.

From 1962 until 1966 Nathan-Pulliam worked as a licensed practical nurse or LPN in the obstetrics ward at Baltimore City Hospital. From 1966 until 1967 she worked at Baltimore’s Bansecor Hospital. After earning her GED in 1969 Nathan-Pulliam enrolled in Baltimore City College and in 1975 graduated with an associate of arts degree in nursing. While a student at BCC, she created the nurses alumni association and became its first president. In 1980 Nathan-Pulliam earned her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from the University of Maryland. In 1987 she received her master’s in administrative science from Johns Hopkins University. From 1975 until 1987 Nathan-Pulliam worked at Lutheran Hospital, later known as Liberty Medical Center.

In 1986, she unsuccessfully ran for the Maryland House of Delegates. Then, in 1994, Nathan-Pulliam was elected to represent Baltimore’s tenth district, becoming the first Caribbean-born and first African American registered nurse elected to the Maryland General Assembly. Nathan-Pulliam has sponsored and championed numerous healthcare legislation bills. Her first year in office she successfully secured 2.6 million dollars for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment for low-income women.

Nathan-Pulliam is currently CEO of a healthcare education consulting firm and serves as executive director of an adult daycare facility. She has been the recipient of many honors and awards for her civic and healthcare leadership.

Accession Number

A2004.174

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/22/2004

Last Name

Nathan-Pulliam

Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

Mico Practicing School

Baltimore City Community College

First Name

Shirley

HM ID

NAT01

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Can't is not in my vocabulary.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

5/20/1939

Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Jamaican Food, Plantains (Fried)

Short Description

Registered nurse and state representative The Honorable Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (1939 - ) worked as a registered nurse since 1962, and was the first Carribean-born person and first registered nurse elected to Maryland General Assembly, where she sponsored and championed numerous healthcare legislation bills.

Employment

Obstetrics Ward - Baltimore City Hospital

Bansecor Hospital

Liberty Medical Center

Maryland General Assembly

Healthcare Education Consulting Firm

Extended Family Adult Day Care, Inc.

Favorite Color

Fuchsia, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Shirley Nathan-Pulliam interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam discusses her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam details her earliest childhood memories and the discovery of an older brother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam recalls the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Jamaica

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her grandparents and plantation life in Jamaica

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam details her family structure after her parents' separation

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her experiences battling rheumatic fever as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam details her religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam discusses her dyslexia and migrane problems in her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam recalls the dreams and aspirations from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam remembers her nursing school experiences in England and meeting her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam details her move from England to Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam describes race relations in Baltimore in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam recalls meeting her husband's parents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam discusses her career aspirations and her experiences in college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam details her career at Lutheran Hospital of Baltimore

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam describes her run for the Maryland House of Delegates in 1986

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam describes her company Nathan's Network

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her foray into politics and her trip to Europe, Part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her foray into politics and her trip to Europe, Part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam recalls her first campaign win for the Maryland's General Assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her accomplishments in the Maryland General Assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam discusses the unique qualities she brings to the Maryland House of Delegates

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam comments on the changes in political leadership in Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about the Caribbean population in the Baltimore area

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam discusses her battles for the rights of immigrants in the state of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam comments on the changes she's seen on her return visits to Jamaica

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Shirley Nathan-Pulliam comments on her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam recalls her first campaign win for the Maryland's General Assembly
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam discusses the unique qualities she brings to the Maryland House of Delegates
Transcript
You were thinking, okay, I'm gonna run for this seat. And what was it that finally--well, and you had, you know--.$$Well, 1993 I decided. It was 1993.$$1993. And you had raised money. So tell us a little bit about what that campaign was like and what was different about than in 1986?$$Well, I'll say what was different about it was that there was, it was a new, brand new district and there were no incumbents. And remember Senator [Delores] Kelley that I mentioned to you, she was then delegate and she moved from Baltimore City [Maryland] into Baltimore County to run as the senator because this--the district had been redistrict. And so I then somehow in our conversation asked or whether she allowed me to be on her ticket. And, and so there were two other people on the ticket. So it's three delegates and one, and one senator. And so we formed a ticket. We each ran our own individual campaign and then we came together before the election and kind of pool our monies and pool her for her brochures and for our mailing and for all the different things that we needed to do. And we campaigned together knocking on doors and doing the different things, yes, and have lawn signs and, you know, the whole works.$$And did you run unopposed?$$Oh, no. There were about twenty-one other folks who ran, too. A lot of folks ran. But the more the merrier because then they dilute the vote and the ones who are the front, you know--. And, and it was, you know, getting out and talking to the people. And, and, and people trust nurses so it, it's kind of help--my theme was "the nurse for your political health." And so, you know, and I gave Band-Aids and all kinds of little stuff out with my names, name on it. I did, you know--and so it was, it was a, it was a good--that night we were victorious in, in November of 1994.$$And so tell us about what it was like for you when you first arrived at the State House [of Delegates] in Annapolis [Maryland].$$Oh, well, before I, I came, Senator Kelley brought me down 'cause, of course, she was a [State] Senate-elect at that point and she was a delegate. So she, she brought me down. It was after the election and after the primary, I think, after I won the primary election. And we still had the general, but I knew that once I'd won the primary I could have, I would won the general because it was a predominantly Democratic district. And so she brought me down here for something, and, and I had to come under the, under the tunnel--not under the tunnel, under the--we have a--the, the garage is underground. And so as she pulled into the underground garage and she said, "This is where we park," you know, that you will be able to park, you know, when she, when she'll be on the Senate side but she still had a place in the House. And when as I drove in her car into the, into the House, that's when it dawn on me, hey, you're gonna be a delegate. You're gonna actually represent the people of your district. And so the rest was history, of course. And come November I won. And then, believe it or not, my office there, that suite where my office was Sauerbrey--she ran for, she had run for governor, Ellen Sauerbrey. She had occupied that office. And the office that I have now Bob [Robert] Ehrlich, who is now the governor of the state of the Maryland, that was his delegate office, and he had just won the seat to [U.S.] Congress.$$So what does that mean?$$So when I came in (laughs), when I came in, I had to--I couldn't move my things in because Bob Ehrlich had all his things still in the office. So he had to come and clean his office out. That was, that was when I first time I met him when he came to clean his stuff out the office. And, and then I was able to get the office cleaned up and have them painted it and start bringing my stuff in, you know. So I was all excited. So I--by Christmas I had all my stuff in so that by time January came I was ready to sworn in.$$And what was the reaction of your children?$$Oh, my, my children were, were, were very supportive and very excited about, about it, you know. Many times they feel I don't give enough time to them, that if I did, if I just quit and stop doing the stuff, I'll have more, they'll have more time. But now they're all grown up so it really don't make a whole lot of difference now.$As a nurse what perspective do you think you bring to the [Maryland] General Assembly?$$Oh, let--as a nurse and as the first--well, back up. Beside being the first African American nurse ever to be elected to this body, there are five nurses in the, in the [Maryland] House [of Delegates], but I'm the first African American and the first Caribbean-born and, and more specifically, Jamaican, first Caribbean-born ever to be elected in the 360-year history of this General Assembly. And so for those, for, for that reason I found, I thought I had a responsibility as a member of the Maryland, of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and as a nurse and, and, and a woman at that time still represented a large African American population, although I do have Caucasians and I do have a mixture of other folks--I don't lose sight of their health care and their needs, but I wanted to make sure that we look at this issue. And my grandfather always said it was important to be at the table. And then I just realized what he really meant about being at the table, okay. Because I know for a fact that if I wasn't at that table sitting in the Health and Government Operations and I served on the Environmental Matters Committee before, if I wasn't there, many of the issues that I'm talking to you about would never discussed--from HIV, AIDS to hepatitis C to, to substance abuse. You name the issues that I've brought before. And anytime that I thought that racism played a part and we were not getting our point out, I made sure I spoke loud enough and clear enough that I was understood. And if I had to get up on the floor of the House and fight for those issues, whether it was immigrant issues because I'm an immigrant, so I'm very touchy about issues that, that impact on immigrants as well. Because I, I, I know the history of America and I know in fact that this country is a country of immigrants. And so for which, regardless of what, which, which of those issues that comes before me, I fight. And don't take on a bill unless I feel that I can put every bit of my energy into getting it to, to passage. And the Children Health Initiative is another thing that I've been proud of. I wasn't the lead sponsor but I was one of the sponsor. I serve on the committee drafted and crafted that that provided health care to over a hundred thousand children in the state of Maryland.$$Poor children who couldn't afford--.$$(Simultaneously) Poor children that, that came in a little bit above within that poverty level. If they were low enough that they're on medical assistance, then they would have coverage. But those who fell within that gray area of poverty up to 200 percent of federal poverty would be able to get--200 and 250 percent of federal poverty.