Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nannie Helen Burroughs - Wednesday's Woman of the Week!

Nannie Helen Burroughs, founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D. C. in 1909. The school served as a national model school for the teaching of African American women. Burroughs believed that education, job training, and voting rights were the tools for Black women’s empowerment. In 1915 she wrote an article in the Crisis, in the official magazine of the NAACP, demanding the ballot as a protection for African American women and the route to racial advancement.

Nannie Helen Burroughs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZ62-79903)

Before founding the National Training School for Women and Girls, Burroughs  graduated from high school with honors in 1896.  She worked in Louisville for the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention.  Burroughs formed women’s industrial clubs throughout the South teaching night classes in typing, stenography, bookkeeping, millinery, and home economics to Black women. Through her powerful oratory she became secretary of the National Baptist Woman’s Convention and, building on her teaching experience and grassroots network among Baptist women,. Under the motto, “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible,” her school blended industrial training and the liberal arts with a Christian education. She maintained her own publishing house, trained women missionaries, and educated African American women to be self-sufficient wage earners. She was a power player among both Black and white women.  She died in Washington in 1961; her school continues today.

Read more on Nannie Helen Burroughs at the National Women's History Museum Website

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