- 25th February
- 25th February
- 8th February
- 7th February
- 6th February
- 5th February
- 4th February
- 3rd February
Anna Arnold Hedgeman: Activist for Feminism and Civil Rights. Founding Member of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
Lived: July 5, 1899 ~ January 17, 1990
Trait to Admire: CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO
BIO & LEGACY:
Anna Arnold was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to William James Arnold II and Marie Ellen Parker Arnold. She moved with her family to Anoka, Minnesota, when she was very young. She attended Hamline University, and in 1922 became the first African-American graduate, having earned a B.A. degree in English. While in college, she heard W. E. B. Du Bois speak, which inspired her to succeed as an educator. For two years, Hedgeman taught English and History at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where she experienced the humiliation of segregation for the first time. She would later make Harlem her home with her husband, she married Merritt Hedgeman, an interpreter of African-American folk music and opera.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the only woman to serve on the 1963 March on Washington planning committee. Asked to serve with the Big Six (Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King, James Farmer, Whitney Young, and John Lewis) in planning the 1963 March, she found it incredibly disturbing that these men had not thought to include a “Negro woman” speaker at the march. Their initial plan was for Randolph to “ask several Negro women to stand while he reviewed the historic role of Negro women [and then] the women would merely take a bow at the end of his presentation.”
She wouldn’t stand for it, and instead drafted a memorandum to the group, noting that “in light of the role of the Negro women in the struggle for freedom and especially in light of the extra burden they have carried because of the castration of the Negro man in our culture, it is incredible that no woman should appear as a speaker at the historic March on Washington Meeting at the Lincoln Memorial.”
She suggested that they ask either Myrlie Evers, widow of Medgar Evers, or Diane Nash Bevel, a young Civil Rights leader. Roy Wilkins obliged her request. The wives of various Civil Rights leaders were asked to share the dais, Daisy Bates “was asked to say a few words,” and Rosa Parks was presented, Hedgeman notes, “almost casually.”
She would later challenge Dr. King by saying that the “dream” did not belong solely to him. “Your dream of a new frontier is bound up in the dreams of all people who have had a vision beyond the moment; a vision of some people in the world from the beginning of time.” I wanted desperately to say these same words to Martin Luther King, standing in front of 250,000 people who had come to Washington because they had a dream, and in the face of all the men and women of the past who have dreamed in vain, I wished very much that Martin had said, We have a dream.”
Her accomplishments are many:
- Served as an executive director for the YWCA in Ohio, New Jersey, Harlem, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.
- In 1944, she became the executive secretary of the National Council for a Permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) making her the first black person to hold a Federal Security Agency position.
- In 1946, she served as assistant dean of women at Howard University.
- In 1954, she became the first African American woman to hold a mayoral cabinet position in the history of New York.
- In 1959 she was an associate editor and columnist for New York Age.
- 1963, she served as Coordinator of Special Events for the Commission of Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches.
- In 1966, serves as the first Executive Vice President of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
- Owner of Hedgeman Consultant Services in New York City.
- She ran for U.S Congress and New York City Council President.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the first chair of NOW’s Task Force on Women in Poverty. In her 1967 task force report, she called for a meaningful expansion of economic opportunities for women and said there were no jobs or opportunities for women “at the bottom of the heap” to move into. Her suggestions included job training, job creation, regional and city planning, attention to high school dropouts and an end to the ignoring of women and girls in federal job and poverty-related programs.
Hedgeman served as teacher, lecturer, and consultant to numerous educational centers, boards, and colleges and universities, particularly in the area of African-American studies. She traveled to Africa and lectured throughout the United States, especially in black schools and colleges. She stressed to students the importance of understanding history as a basis to achieve equality.
Hedgeman held memberships in numerous organizations, such as the Child Study Association, Community Council of the City of New York, National Urban League, NAACP, United Nations Association, Advisory Committee on Alcoholism, Advisory Committee on Drug Addiction, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Hedgeman is author of The Trumpet Sounds (1964), The Gift of Chaos (1977), and articles in numerous organizational publications, newspapers, and journals. Hedgeman, who had been a resident of the Greater Harlem Nursing Home, died on January 17, 1990, in Harlem Hospital.
RITUAL OF REMEMBRANCE:
- Listen to Columnist Herb Boyd’s reflection on Hedgeman.
- Dedicate today to a woman in your life who embodies the energy of Anna Hedgeman.
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich famously said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Where in your life do you play it safe? What impact has this had on your being and community?
- Practice being part of the WE. Black women are socialized to believe that we must do everything by ourselves. Hedgeman reminds us that the power and strength don’t live in the “I” Power and strength live in the “WE.” Ask for support with your ideas and dreams.
- 2nd February
“The world needs to hear what you have to say. The last word has not been spoken.”
Born: July 12, 1920 - September 14, 2000 - Vicksburg, Mississippi
Trait to admire: Master
Bio and Legacy:
Born Beulah Elizabeth Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi, her mother was a seamstress and PTA advocate and her father was a Baptist minister. In 1948, she graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans and two years later moved to New York City. Her career started to take off in 1955 when she portrayed an eighty-four-year-old-grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step. She often played the role of a mother or grandmother, and continued acting her entire life.
Beah Richards Facts:
Died just days after receiving Emmy award for ”The Practice”
which was accepted for her by LisaGay Hamilton and delivered to Vicksburg.
- Married for three years to Hugh Harrell, Jr., an African-American sculptor
- Appeared in James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner” on Broadway in 1965, for which she received a Tony nomination as Best Actress (Dramatic).
- One of her poems, “Keep Climbing, Girls”, has been turned into a picture book inspiring girls’ power. Published in 2006 by Simon & Schuster.
- Honored with the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award and was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame.
- Appeared in “Purlie Victorious” on Broadway, 1961.
- Appeared in “Take a Giant Step” off-Broadway, 1955.
- Inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1974.
- Lisa Gay Hamilton’s documentary about Beah’s life would go on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival.
- Richards championed civil rights alongside Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois
- She was friends with Langston Hughes and Communist Party leaders William and Louise Parker
- The FBI kept a file on her from 1951 to 1972, that totaled 100 pages.
“There are a lot of movies out there that I would hate to be paid to do: some real demeaning, real woman-denigrating stuff. It is up to women to change their roles. They are going to have to write the stuff and do it. And they will.”
Ritual of Remembrance:
A Black Women Speaks…….
1. Unleash your inner poet by getting out a notepad/journal and write down your thoughts on Black Womanhood
2. Watch and listen again to Ms. Beah’s recitation of her poem
3. Read the full poem of A Black Woman Speaks of White Womanhood, of White Supremacy, of Peace here
4. Watch the documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks
5. Watch Ms. Beah’s stirring speech as Suggs Holly from the movie Beloved
- 1st February
Day #24: KATHLEEN NEAL CLEAVER, LAWYER, ACTIVIST, SOUL SISTER, SNCC & BLACK PANTHER PARTY LEADER, EX-WIFE OF ELDRIDGE CLEAVER
Born: May 13, 1945, Dallas, Texas
Trait to admire: Focused
Bio & Legacy:
Kathleen Neal was born in Dallas, Texas. Both of her parents had higher education; her father was a sociology professor at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas and her mother had a master’s degree in mathematics. . Soon after Kathleen was born, her father, Ernest Neal, accepted a job as the director of the Rural Life Council of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Six years later, Ernest joined the Foreign Service. The family moved abroad and lived in such countries as India, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Phillippines. Kathleen returned to the United States to attend a Quaker boarding school near Philadelphia, George School. She graduated with honors in 1963. She continued her education at Oberlin College, and later transferred to Barnard College. In 1966, she left college for a secretarial job with the New York office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Kathleen Cleaver became the Black Panther Party’s National Communications Secretary and helped to organize the campaign to get Huey Newton released from prison. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Black Panthers Central Committee.As a result of their involvement with the Black Panther Party, the Cleavers were often the target of police investigations.
Eldridge Cleaver staged a deliberate ambush of Oakland police officers during which two police officers were injured. Cleaver was wounded and fellow Black Panther member Bobby Hutton was killed in a shootout following the initial exchange of gunfire. Charged with attempted murder, he jumped bail to flee to Cuba and later went to Algeria.
Cleaver returned to the United States in 1975. Tried for his role in the 1968 shoot-out, Cleaver was found guilty of assault. The court was lenient and Cleaver, now a born-again Christian, received only five year’s probation and directed to perform 2,000 hours of community service.
Kathleen divorced Eldridge Cleaver in 1985 and went back to school in 1981, receiving a full scholarship from Yale University. She graduated in 1983, summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. In 1987, Kathleen divorced Eldridge Cleaver. She then continued her education by getting her law degree from Yale Law School. After graduating, Cleaver worked for the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and followed this with numerous jobs including: law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta, visiting faculty member at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, the Graduate School of Yale University and Sarah Lawrence College. In 2005, she was selected an inaugural Fletcher Foundation Fellow. She then worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Yale Law School, and a Senior Lecturer in the African American Studies department at Yale University. She is currently serving as senior lecturer at Yale University.
She is still an advocate for political prisoners, and still delights in watching street protests. She lives in an affluent village near New Haven with St. Clair Bourne, a documentary filmmaker. If Ms. Cleaver’s life today seems like a sharp contrast to the days when her 1968 campaign poster for the California State Assembly pictured her holding a gun, it is only the latest curve in a story that has taken many unpredictable turns.
Ritual of Remembrance:
Aluta Continua (” The Struggle Continues”)
1. What role are you playing in the struggle?
Listen to Kathleen Cleaver explain why we must actively participate in the struggle for justice
3. Read an article about Kathleen fighting for the rights of the Geechee/Gullah people in Georgia.