Eddie Bernice Johnson is the first registered nurse elected to
Congress and can be counted among the most famous nurses in history
because of her outstanding accomplishments in that capacity. As an
African-American woman, she has overcome many obstacles in both her
nursing and political careers.
Biography - Early Life and Education of Eddie Bernice Johnson
Ms. Johnson was born in 1935 and grew up in Waco, Texas. She was interested in studying
medicine but because of her race could not attend college in her own state. Leaving Texas,
she attended St. Mary's College at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and
received a diploma in nursing in 1956. Returning to Texas, she later earned a bachelor of
science in nursing at Texas Christian University and, in 1976, a master's degree in public
administration from Southern Methodist University.
Ms. Johnson's nursing career was spent in the psychiatric field. After obtaining her
advanced nursing degree, she served as chief psychiatric nurse and psychotherapist at
the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, Texas. She held that position for 16
years before deciding to enter politics.
In 1972, Eddie Bernice Johnson won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives and
became the first African-American woman from Dallas ever elected to public office.
In 1977, her experience and education in health care led President Jimmy Carter to
appoint her as regional director for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare,
making her the first black woman to hold this job.
Johnson again entered politics in 1986 and was elected to the Texas Senate. As would
be expected, her concerns centered around health care, education and racial equality
as well as public housing and economic development. In her position as a state senator,
she wrote legislation regarding health care and racial discrimination. She was an
activist, holding hearings, investigating complaints and testifying to a federal
court about racism.
In 1992, Johnson made a risky move and retired from the Texas Senate to run as representative
for the newly formed 30th congressional district. She won by a landslide and has won every
re-election since. Her tenure as congressional representative has shown her to be an
effective and dedicated leader. Congresswoman Johnson is an active member of many House
committees and is an outspoken advocate of science, technology, engineering and math
Eddie Bernice Johnson's Nursing Legacy
Ms Johnson is an outstanding example of the value of education. She feels that her
nursing education prepared her to make a difference in the world. Her strong feelings
about nursing led her to introduce the National Nurse Act of 2011.This bill
recognizes the many contributions that nurses have made in public health and disease
prevention. It elevates the importance of the Chief Nurse Officer of the United States
Public Health Service and states that nurses are in the ideal position to promote
social justice and wellness to Americans.
She also proposes that the government appoint a National Nurse to work with the Surgeon
General to promote wellness and health literacy.
Eddie Bernice Johnson believes that nurses have the education and knowledge to be very
effective in the political arena. She encourages other nurses to share their gifts to
make the United States a better place for everyone.
Nursing Resources and More Information About Eddie Bernice Johnson