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Carrie Crawford Smith

Carrie Crawford Smith (February 7, 1877 – November 19, 1954)
Educator/Employment Agency Owner

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Carrie Crawford Smith.

SmithCarrie G. Crawford, a native of Nashville, TN, graduated from Fisk University in 1897.  After teaching in various Southern schools, she relocated to Illinois and married Edward A. Smith, a scavenger, in 1907.  In 1916, the family, with five children in tow, relocated to Evanston, IL during the first Great Migration.[1]   She opened the Smith Employment Agency in 1918 that provided “Select Help for Private Families”, according to an advertisement of the time.  Mrs. Smith, who hired both black and white women, wrote the “Smith Employment Agency Standards and Principles”.  This contract explicitly stated that employers were not to put their black employees in any degrading situations.  For more than 40 years, she tenaciously maintained her high standards not only for employers but also for employees.  Mrs. Smith was known to withdraw women from homes when her rules were violated.

In the 1920s, with her marriage ended, Mrs. Smith continued to build her business by adhering to high performance standards.  At the same time, she was actively involved in the Evanston community via the NAACP, the Matilda Dunbar Club, the Evanston Interracial Council and the Ebenezer A. M. E. church.  Mrs. Smith also taught Work Projects Administration (WPA) [2] classes during World War II and continued her education through reading and local studies.  After her death, her sons continued the agency for a time.

1 The first Great Migration was a movement of blacks from the South to urban cities in the Northeast, Midwest [1910-1930]. 

2 The Works Projects Administration was a New Deal agency during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency that provided job opportunities in construction, the fine arts, and literacy projects. 


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin

Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin (August 9, 1884-March 10, 1965)

Fundraiser/Influencer/Women’s Suffrage Leader

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin.

LampkinBorn August 9, 1884 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Daisy Adams Lampkin became one of the most highly acclaimed African American women of her time. While Mrs. Lampkin is best known her role as the first woman elected to the national board of the NAACP, she spent much of her life rallying for racial and gender equality.

Mrs. Lampkin’s social and political activism began shortly after graduating from high school. After migrating to Pittsburgh, she worked as a motivational speaker for housewives and organized women into consumer protest groups. She was an active leader in the Lucy Stone Women’s Suffrage League and the National Suffrage League where she rallied for women’s right to vote. Understanding the challenges unique to African American women, Mrs. Lampkin also became involved with the National Association for Colored Women (NACW) and was later named National Organizer and Chair of the Executive Board.
From 1930-1964, Mrs. Lampkin served three consecutive terms as a national officer for the NAACP. Throughout her years of service, she was hailed as the NAACP’s top membership recruiter and fundraiser.  In addition to her lobbying, organizing, and fundraising efforts, Mrs. Lampkin has also been credited with persuading a young Baltimore attorney, Thurgood Marshall, to become a member of the NAACP's Legal Defense Committee.

In December 1964, for her dedication to racial and gender equality, Mrs. Lampkin was honored with the Eleanor Roosevelt-Mary McLeod Bethune World Citizenship Award from the National Council of Negro Women. After more than fifty years of work on behalf of others, Mrs. Lampkin passed away on March 10, 1965 at the age of 81.

Photo: Blackpast http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lampkin-daisy-1884-1964 (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/daisy-adams-lampkin/ (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://old.post-gazette.com/blackhistorymonth/19980202lampkin.asp (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/woman-suffrage/awsa-memorial.html (Accessed 1/24/14)

Compiled by Beverly Moore

Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda (April 12, 1950-)

Head of State/Reformer/Visionary

President of the Republic of Malawi

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

“I will serve my country and my people with your help and the help of God and to the best of my ability.”

BandaMalawi, surrounded by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania, is a small landlocked country about the size of Pennsylvania, located in Southeast Africa. Malawians made history by electing Dr. Joyce Banda as their first female head of state on April 7, 2012 following the death of 78-year-old President Bingu wa Mutharika. As Malawi’s first female President, Dr. Banda is the continent’s second female Head of State, and is a champion for women, children, and the underprivileged. Forbes magazine has recognized Dr. Banda as one of Africa's most powerful women.

Before her election to the presidency, Dr. Banda spent thirty years as a development practitioner, a philanthropist, and a champion for social justice and equality. President Banda’s driving vision is to eradicate poverty in Malawi through economic growth and wealth creation. To date, she has prioritized programs to help women and children gain social and political power through entrepreneurship and education. Among her first initiatives as President was the creation of the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction aimed at increasing food security. Dr. Banda has also created the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood, aimed at reducing Malawi’s high infant mortality rates.

President Banda holds a Bachelor of Social Studies in Gender Studies from the Atlantic International University in the United Sates, and a diploma in Non-Governmental Organization and Management from the International Labour Organization (ILO) Centre in Turch, Italy. Currently, President Banda is completing a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership at Royal Roads University in Canada. Jeonju University of South Korea conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree on President Banda in January 2013.

Photo: Republic of Malawi http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/malawi/cache/offonce/pid/15104 (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://www.apbspeakers.com/speaker/joyce-banda (Accessed 1/24/14)
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Her-Excellency-Dr-Joyce-Banda/325799237543309?sk=info (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17662916 (Accessed 1/24/14)

Compiled by Beverly Moore


Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson

Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson (April 25, 1942-October 9, 1967)

Determined Leader and Change Agent

Former Executive Secretary, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson.

Smith-RobinsonThough her life was brief, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson left a legacy of leadership for African-American women to follow. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 25, 1942, she was the second oldest of seven children born to Alice and J. T. Smith. Her father was a bi-vocational minister and furniture mover, and her mother was a beautician. The Smiths lived in a middle class community in Atlanta and enjoyed a relatively comfortable life, yet they were always aware of looming racial and gender inequality. Ruby Smith entered Spelman College in 1959, where she quickly became involved in the Atlanta Student Movement [Founded by Lonnie King and Julian Bond in 1960 comprised of African-American college students across Atlanta’s University system calling for an end to inequality]. In 1964, she married Clifford Robinson, and a year later she gave birth to a son, Kenneth.

Mrs. Robinson regularly picketed and protested with other students who worked to integrate key Atlanta institutions. In February 1961, she became involved in activities sponsored by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Mrs. Robinson was a bold and daring colleague, the creator of SNCC's own, “jail, no bail policy,” and one of the original Freedom Riders. Mrs. Robinson, like many young activists, spent forty-five days at Parchman State Penitentiary in Jackson, Mississippi for her civil rights activism. Robinson remained in Mississippi after being released from prison to work on SNCC's voter registration campaign.  

While women played an important role in SNCC and other civil rights organizations, the administrative leadership was largely male-dominated. In 1966, Robinson broke the pattern of exclusive male leadership by being elected the first female Executive Secretary. Mrs. Robinson was considered hard and uncompromising as she courageously challenged both gender discrimination and racial segregation in society.

In April 1967, Mrs. Smith Robinson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Tragically, she died later that year on October 9, 1967, at the age of twenty-five.

Photo: Public Domain http://www.blackpast.org/aah/robinson-ruby-doris-smith-1942-1967  (Accessed 1/23/14)
http://boards.ancestry.com/topics.obits/66141/mb.ashx   (Accessed 1/23/14)
http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/kingweb/about_king/details/660616.htm  (Accessed 1/23/14)
http://www.atlantamagazine.com/history/story.aspx?ID=1200025 (Accessed 1/28/14)

Compiled by Beverly Moore

Virginia Foster Durr

Virginia Foster Durr (August 6, 1903-February 24, 1999)

New Dealer/Civil Rights Activist

Founder, Southern Conference on Human Welfare

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Virginia Foster Durr.

DurrGranddaughter of an owner of enslaved African Americans, and admitted racist, Virginia Foster was born and raised near Birmingham, Alabama to Dr. Sterling and Ann Patterson Foster. Miss Foster attended Wellesley College where she was confronted with her deep-seated prejudices. In her sophomore year, she was met with the difficult choice of either agreeing to eat at the same table as an African-American student or leaving school. Choosing to stay at school, the decision would change her life forever, because it was the beginning of her moral transformation from her racist outlook.

A family crisis cut short her time at Wellesley, so in 1923, Miss Foster returned home to Birmingham where she met her future husband, Alabama attorney and Rhodes Scholar, Clifford Durr. The couple married and in 1933, moved to Washington, D.C., where both became avid supporters of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda.  Through her work with the Democratic National Committee, Mrs. Durr worked with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to eliminate the poll tax. In 1938, Mrs. Durr became a founding member of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare, where she sought to bring together disparate liberal groups in the South to end violence against labor organizations and work towards racial integration.  As a founder of SCHW and as a member of other organizations like the Southern Conference Educational Fund, Mrs. Durr routinely challenged White privilege. She worked closely with friends like Ella Baker and Mary McCloud Bethune to challenge racist social, economic, and political attitudes at both the local and national levels.

With the integration of Montgomery public schools, her home became a "safe place" for African-American students that attended Sidney Lanier High School. Mrs. Durr also worked with Mrs. Rosa Parks after she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus, which became the catalyst for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Virginia Foster Durr died on February 24, 1999. At the time of her death, The Atlanta Constitution described her as “the white matron of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Photo: Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame http://www.awhf.org/durr.htm (Accessed 1/23/14)
http://www.nwhp.org/whm/durr_bio.php  (Accessed 1/23/14)
http://crdl.usg.edu/export/html/eoa/eoaa/crdl_eoa_eoaa_h-1593.html?Welcome  (Accessed 1/23/14)

Compiled by Beverly Moore

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