Today we celebrate the life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman. Hedgeman is not known by many, but her accomplishments are grand and important. She was an American civil rights leader, politician, educator, and writer. EVERYDAY is Black History.
Anna Arnold was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to an encouraging family that believed in the power of education and hard work. She was encouraged by her parents to seek educational greatness. She attended Hamline University, a Methodist College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and was the college’s first African-American student. In 1922, Hedgeman became the first African-American graduate, having earned a B.A. degree in English. Inspired by the passion of W. E. B. Du Bois, she decided 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 then worked for the YWCA as an executive director 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). In 1946, Hedgeman 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. She served as an assistant and advisor to Mayor Robert F. Wagner from 1954 to 1958.
In 1958, she held a position as a public relations consultant in Fuller Products Company. She became an associate editor and columnist for New York Age in 1959. Then she held a position as a Coordinator of Special Events for the Commission of Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches in 1963. It is in 1963 that she met A. Phillip Rudolph and Bayard Rustin and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She worked with Rudolph and Rustin in helping plan logistics for the March on Washington of 1963. In later years, she owned Hedgeman Consultant Services in New York City.
Hedgeman has 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, primarily in black schools. She has stressed to students the importance of understanding history as a basis to achieve equality. Hedgeman held honorary doctorates from both Howard University and Hamline University. She also is also the author of two books The Trumpet Sounds (1964), The Gift of Chaos (1977), as well as and articles in numerous organizational publications, newspapers, and journals.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman is another unsung black female pioneer and heroine. She is a black woman who knew her worth, and cold not be held bond by her race or gender. We can all learn from this black women. Your race and gender does not have to stop you from reaching the highest of heights. You can become great too. Hedgeman also used education and a desire to attain success to aid her in her life. She also demonstrated great skill and work ethic, for others recognized her work and she gained numerous opportunities because of it. Family, know that when you use education and hard work, success will come your way. Build a reputation of excellence, paired with your education. Achievement will follow you and you will find that life’s hurdles will never set you back far enough, for you have the power and will to overcome. Learn from the life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman. Know your history, gain your education and work hard. You will become limitless. ~Know Your Worth~