Kim Terry, Director of Marketing and Communications
Published: January 23, 2014
In celebration of Black History Month, this February the Metropolitan Library System is once again partnering with Rhythmically Speaking to present a new play by Oklahoma City playwright DWe Williams, “Nothing But Mercy: A Private Room Please!”
It’s the story of two strong women who never met but together pioneered a compassionate new way of life by undermining a cruel old one.
In 1884, the Sisters of Mercy came to Indian Territory, finally settling in Oklahoma City in 1903. In 1947, the order bought Oklahoma City General Hospital, changed the name to Mercy Hospital, and organized their medical mission.
Then, something happened, one of those seemingly small things that blossom into something large and ahead of its time. A retired African American school teacher had a heart attack and his wife asked Mercy Hospital for a private room. It doesn’t sound like much, but a black patient in a white hospital in a private room was unheard of. So out of the ordinary was the request, one of the nurses turned up her nose at the idea.
A hospital administrator, Sister Mary Catherine McAuley, who was named for the founder of the Sisters, responded with quiet rage not at the original request, but at the nurse’s attitude and said that anyone working at Mercy “would need to comply with the philosophy of the hospital—there was to be no discrimination in the care of the sick because of race, creed or color.”
The practice of separate and unequal treatment of African American patients was abolished at Mercy Hospital decades before the Jim Crow laws were outlawed in other parts of the country.
DWe Williams and Rhythmically Speaking have been inspired by this story.
Join them for the complete and inspiring drama during the month of February at these MLS locations. All presentations are free and open to the public.
For more information about this or any Metropolitan Library System program, visit the MLS website, www.metrolibrary.org.
The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 14 libraries and five extension libraries. Libraries include Almonte, Belle Isle, Capitol Hill, Patience S. Latting Northwest, Ralph Ellison, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres. Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City. You can also reach us at www.metrolibrary.org.