Sarah J. Garnet
Sarah J. Tompkins Garnet (née Smith) (July 31, 1831 - Sept. 17, 1911) was an African-American educator and suffragist from New York City who was a pioneer as the first African-American female school principal in the New York City public school system.
Family and early life
Sarah J. Smith, daughter of Sylvanus and Anne (Springsteel) Smith, was born on July 31, 1831 in Brooklyn, New York. Sarah was the oldest of eleven children. Her sister Susan McKinney Steward was first African-American woman in New York State to earn a medical degree, and the third in the United States.
Sarah married Samuel Tompkins who died in approximately 1852. Her two children from that marriage died prematurely.
When Sarah began teaching in New York City, the public schools were racially segregated. Sarah began teaching at the African Free School of Williamsburg in 1854. She was the first African-American woman to be appointed as a principal in the New York City public school system; she took over as principal of Grammar School Number 4 on April 30, 1863.
Garnet retired from active school service in 1900. She served as teacher and principal for more than fifty years.
Later life, death, legacy
Sarah owned a seamstress shop in Brooklyn from 1883 to 1911.
Sarah traveled with her sister, Susan Steward to London, England for the inaugural Universal Races Congress of 1911 where Steward presented the paper, "Colored American Women." The conference was organized by W. E. B. DuBois. Soon after they returned from London, she died at home.
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