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Audrey Layne Jeffers

Audrey Layne Jeffers (February 12, 1898-June 24, 1968)


During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Audrey Layne Jeffers.

jeffersOften referred to as the “Mother of Trinidadian Philanthropy”, Audrey Layne Jeffers helped to define “community care” by inspiring the wealthy to help the poor.  Born to an upper-class family, her life was dedicated to easing the burdens of poor blacks living in Trinidad and Tobago.  Educated in Great Britain, Miss Jeffers was a founder of the Union of Students of African Descent (later the League of Colored Peoples).  During World War I, she served with West African troops and even established a fund to help those soldiers.  Jeffers was the founder of a Junior School that educated poor black children, and in 1921, she joined other like-minded women to set up feeding programs through the Coterie of Workers so that hungry students would have a mid-day meal.

Over time, the organization, now known as the Coterie of Social Workers, expanded its reach by establishing homes for the elderly, homeless and blind, as well as day care centers. In 1936, she was an honored guest of the Negro Progress Convention in British Guyana, marking the 100th anniversary of slave emancipation.  That May, the Coterie hosted the First Conference of British West Indies and British Guyana Women Social Workers in the Port of Spain, which was the first major women's conference of the English-speaking Caribbean.  Miss Jeffers took advantage of an opportunity to run for public office in October 1936 and became the first woman elected to the Port of Spain City Council.

In 1946, the Governor appointed her to the Legislative Council, and in 1959, she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  These positions allowed her to expand the work not only in her home country but also throughout the Caribbean.  To this day, many of Miss Jeffers’ methodologies are still in use.   


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

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