Lugenia Burns Hope

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Lugenia Burns Hope could have led a comfortable life as the wife of a college president. But when she moved to Atlanta so her husband could work at Atlanta Baptist College — which became Morehouse… she brought her own ambitions too.

The year was 1898. Hope convinced Morehouse College to provide space for a daycare and kindergarten. These efforts became Hope’s Neighborhood Union: the first woman-run, social welfare agency for blacks in Atlanta …offering medical, recreational, employment, and educational services.

At the beginning of World War I, her Union ran the Atlanta YWCA ‘s War Work Councils for black soldiers, who were barred from the recreational activities available to whites. Later in the war, Hope coordinated a national network to provide black and Jewish soldiers services ranging from recreation to relocation counseling.

In 1920, Hope challenged the national YWCA’s segregation practices. Later she was appointed to President Herbert Hoover’s colored advisory commission. As First Vice President of the Atlanta NAACP, she organized citizenship schools on voting, democracy, and the Constitution. Other NAACP chapters around the country copied this strategy … helping pave the way for the equal rights that Hope had spent her life working for.

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