The adults stood chatting while the little girl sat quietly outside. The midwife was amazed. Margaret Charles was a mere child, but she had done something unbelievable.
She had “caught” a baby. By the time the midwife arrived, the baby and the mother were both resting. One thing was certain: this five-year-old girl had an anointing. But that’s just the beginning of the story of this fascinating rural Alabama woman.
Margaret went on to become one of the most amazing Black midwives in history. During her tenure, she only lost a handful of the over 3,000 babies she delivered, and none of the mothers died. In fact, there was only one reason she stopped helping Black mothers.
Midwifery became illegal! Delivering babies became dominated by white male doctors. Women and infants died in droves, especially Black and rural women. Now that midwifery is gaining more acceptance again, things could improve, but Black mothers STILL die far too often. Why?
The racism Black women face daily is killing our children. Because of women like Margaret Charles Smith, the opposite used to be true. Racism is a public health issue! We must continue to honor our rich tradition of caring for one another by entering and supporting the fields of midwifery and medicine.