From a Partner's Desk

Blog articles from MNYS Partners.



Apr 04, 2022



As we finish out Women's History Month, our partners at ADLA have put together a brief list of incredible women of African descent and the groundbreaking trails they blazed.

  • Jarena Lee (1783 - 1864) Lee was the first woman to preach the Gospel publicly. After attending a worship service at the historic Mother Bethel African American Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, she had a desire to preach and fought for her call to ministry. Ms. Lee travelled hundreds of miles as an itinerant preacher for over 20 years. On April 8, 2016, Jarena Lee was officially ordained, posthumously, as a preacher during the 50th quadrennial session of the General Conference of the African American Episcopal Church. 
  • Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 - April 8, 1993) Deemed one of the finest contraltos of her time, Anderson became the first African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955 and performed the National Anthem at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. In 1939 Marian Anderson was denied the right to sing at Washington D.C's Constitution Hall, by the Daughters of the American Revolution. As a result, First Lady Elenor Roosevelt invited her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday where her riveting performance was heard by those at the Memorial and millions of radio listeners.
  • Barbara Jordan (February 21, 1903 - January 17, 1986) The first African American Texas State Senator since 1883, and the first Black Texan in Congress. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. Jordan was a lawyer, professor, active public speaker, promotor of women's rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, and additionally received 25 honorary doctorate degrees.
  • Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 - December 13, 1986) Considered "The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement". Baker played a key role in organizing some of the most influential civil rights groups. She was actively involved in the National Association of Colored People, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.