Sunday, February 09, 2014

BHM2014 - Jane Edna Hunter

Jane Edna Hunter (December 13, 1882 – January 13, 1971) was born in South Carolina and trained as a nurse before becoming one of the leading settlement house workers and institution-builders in the country. When she arrived in Cleveland in 1905 she could not find decent housing or professional work because of segregation laws and practices. Having no friends or relatives, her first residence turn out to be a place where prostitutes stayed. With the help of other women, she formed the Working Girl's Home Association, which eventually became known as the Phyllis Wheatley Association. The purpose of this voluntary association was to build a safe residence for the homeless, unprotected and working women and girls of the race. The first home was a 23 room facility that opened in 1913 with the second and more expanded facility opening in 1917. In 1925, Hunter graduated from the Cleveland Law School, which was affiliated with Baldwin Wallace College.

In 1930, Hunter became Director of the Phyllis Wheatley Department of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). The purpose of the Department was to build a national network of Phyllis Wheatley Associations that will not only house self-supporting, self-respecting African American women and girls, but provide a meeting place for clubwomen. These facilities were to be a "lighthouse of service" in their communities. They epitomized the self-help and social debt response to those less fortunate.

She wrote an autobiographical book entitled A Nickel and Prayer, which was published in 1940. She served as executive director of the Phillis Wheatley Association of Cleveland until she retired in 1947. Her health began to fail in the 1950s and she lived in a nursing home until her death on January 13, 1971 at age 89. 


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