Rachel B. Noel

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Rachel B. Noel
Rachel Bassette Noel.jpg
Born January 15, 1918
Hampton, Virginia, USA
Died February 4, 2008(2008-02-04) (aged 90)
Oakland, California
Alma mater Hampton Institute
Fisk University
Occupation Educator, politician, civil rights leader

Rachel Bassette Noel (January 15, 1918 – February 4, 2008) was an African-American educator, politician and civil rights leader. She is best known for the "Noel Resolution", which integrated the Denver city school district.

Personal life[edit]

Noel's parents were both college graduates. Her father, A. W. E. Bassette, Jr., was a lawyer. From an early age, her parents instilled in her the importance of a good education. Noel graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Hampton Institute (now known as Hampton University) and earned a master's degree in sociology from Fisk University. She married Dr. Edmond F. Noel, a physician who practiced medicine in the Five Points community, with whom she had a son, Edmond "Buddy" Noel Jr., and a daughter, Angela Noel.

In 2007, Noel moved from Denver to Oakland, California to live with her daughter. Noel died on February 4, 2008.[1] She is survived by her two children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.


In 1965, Noel became the first African American to serve on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. With her successful campaign and election, she became the first African-American woman elected to public office in Colorado.[2]

The Noel Resolution was presented to the Board of Education on April 25, 1968, and called for the Denver area school district superintendent to develop a plan for integration, providing equal educational opportunity for all children. Public opposition was high, and Noel and her family received many threatening phone calls and hate mail. The resolution was passed in February, 1970.[2][3]

Noel was a professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, where she founded and chaired the African-American Studies Department from 1971-80. Noel was also a member of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee for the Health Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Colorado at Denver and Commissioner of the Denver Housing Authority[4]

Noel served on the Advisory Board of the United States Civil Rights Commission.[4]


Noel received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, awarded by the University of Denver and was appointed by former governor Richard Lamm to serve on the University of Colorado Board of Regents in 1976. She was elected statewide to a six-year term on the board in 1978 and served as chair of the board for one year.

Noel was honored with the formation of the Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Professorship[5] in 1981 at Metropolitan State College of Denver. A visiting professor is named each year to conduct classes, seminars and workshops for students, faculty and the community under the program. Noel Professors have included such luminaries as Princeton Professor Cornel West, international philanthropist Julius Coles, pianist Billy Taylor, author Iyanla Vanzant, former president of Spelman College Johnnetta B. Cole, jazz singer Dianne Reeves, the late actor and civil rights activist Ossie Davis and executive editor of Ebony magazine, Lerone Bennett, Jr..

Noel was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award in 1990 and was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 1996.[4] The Rachel B Noel middle school in Denver is named in her honor.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rachel Basette Noel (Obituary)". University of Colorado. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Rachel Bassette Noel". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Woods, Katherine. "Chapter 5: Park Hill, Denver" (PDF). Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research • Volume 4, Number 2 • 1998. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development • Office of Policy Development and Research. 
  4. ^ a b c "Black History Month: Rachel B. Noel". This Week @ Mero. Metropolitan State College of Denver. 9 February 2005. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "2011 Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship2011 Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship". Metropolitan State College of Denver. 
  6. ^ "Who is Rachel B. Noel?". Rachel B Noel Middle School. Retrieved 26 September 2011.