Celebrating Black Leaders

In this blog, National Safe Place Network highlights just a few of the Black leaders who have made a significant impact on our world and generational efforts with youth and families. NSPN invites you to share your stories of how leaders from the Black community have impacted your community and organization’s services through [email protected] and on social media by tagging us on Facebook (@nspnetwork) and Twitter (@nspntweets) with the hashtag #CelebratingBlackLeaders. All information has been excerpted from public biographies and www.biography.com.

Marian Wright Edelman
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

Mrs. Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-60s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In l968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children’s Defense Fund. For two years she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in l973 began CDF.

Marian Wright Edelman was a member of the first group of honorees of the National Safe Place Network Heroes for Youth Awards.

(photo accessed at www.childrensdefensefund.org)

Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)
Mary Church Terrell is a true pioneer for African American women. As the daughter of former slaves-turned-small-business-owners, she was one of the first Black women to earn a bachelor’s degree, the first black woman appointed to a school board, and the first African American admitted to the Washington DC Branch of the American Association of University Women. She later went on to become a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and co-founded the National Association of Colored Women.

(photo accessed at www.womenshistory.org)
George Edmund Haynes (1880–1960)
George Edmond Haynes was a lifelong civil rights advocate and had a diverse educational background in social work. In fact, Haynes was the first African American to graduate from the New York School of Philanthropy (now the Columbia University School of Social Work). Haynes went on to become co-founder and first executive director of the National Urban League. He went on to work as a special assistant to the secretary of labor (under the title of director of Negro economics), making him one of the two highest-ranking Black federal employees.

 (photo accessed at www.blackpast.org)

Lester Blackwell Granger (1896–1976)
Lester Blackwell Granger launched his career as a high school teacher and a social worker. In 1952, he became the first Black man to serve as president of the National Conference of Social Work. Lester Blackwell Granger spent most of his time as acting NCSW president advocating for civil rights measures. After WWII, he served as a special consultant to the Navy in support of efforts to desegregate the military, which earned him the Navy’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Presidential Medal for Merit. In 1958, he was one of four civil rights activist leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., to meet with President Eisenhower to discuss civil rights reform. Like George Edmund Haynes, Granger served as president of the National Urban League for a large part of his career.

 (photo accessed at www.blackpast.org)

Thyra J. Edwards (1897–1953)
Thyra J. Edwards was a lifelong social worker with a multinational impact. Her career began as a social worker in Chicago and she went on to diversify her skills as a lecturer, women’s rights advocate, labor organizer, and journalist. After WWII, she became the executive director of the Congress of American Women. One of the major contributions of this organization was the establishment of the first childcare program in Rome to assist Jewish Holocaust survivors. She advocated for people of all races, nationalities, and ethnicities, and worked internationally until her death in 1953.

 (photo accessed at www.wikipedia.org)

Dorothy Height (1912–2010)
Dorothy Height was a women’s rights and civil rights advocate and is often referred to as “The godmother of the civil rights movement.” Height began her lifetime of advocacy by campaigning against lynching and as a social worker. She went on to establish the YWCA’s Center for Racial Justice, founding the National Women’s Political Caucus, leading the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and co-organizing the famous 1963 March on Washington. Throughout her life, she campaigned internationally for women’s rights, traveling to Mexico, India, and many countries in Africa. Height is the recipient of both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, among many other awards and honorary degrees.

(photo accessed at www.blackpast.org)

Share this post:

Comments on "Celebrating Black Leaders"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment