Addie Waites Hunton

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Addie Waites Hunton
Addie Waites Hunton.png
BornJune 11, 1866
DiedJune 21, 1943
EducationBoston Latin School, Spencerian College of Commerce
Spouse(s)William Alphaeus Hunton
  • Jessie Waites (father)
  • Adeline Waites (mother)

Addie Waites Hunton (June 11, 1866 – June 22, 1943) was an African American suffragist, race and gender activist, writer, political organizer, and educator. In 1889, Hunton became the first black woman to graduate from Spencerian College of Commerce. She worked for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), served as the national organizer for the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) from 1906 to 1910, and served in the U.S. Army during World War I.[1] Hunton was a regular participant in the work of the Equal Suffrage League.[2]

Early years and education[edit]

Addie D. Waites was born in Norfolk, Virginia on June 11, 1866 to Jesse and Adeline Waites.[3] Her mother died when she was very young, and Hunton then moved to Boston to be raised by her maternal aunt.[4] In Boston, Hunton attended the Boston Latin School and graduated with a high school diploma. After high school, she attended Spencerian College of Commerce and became the first black woman to graduate in 1889.


After graduation, Hunton moved to Normal, Alabama, to teach at the State Normal and Agricultural College, which is now known as the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.[5]

In New York, Hunton was recognized by the National Board of the YWCA in 1907 and appointed as secretary. She was responsible for organizing projects among black students. Additionally, she traveled through the South and Midwest to conduct a survey for the YWCA. Hunton is well known for her social welfare efforts among the black community. Furthermore, she recruited a number of other black women to work for the YWCA, such as Eva del Vakia Bowles and Elizabeth Ross Haynes.[6] From 1909 to 1910, Hunton moved with her children to Europe. Her husband was suffering from health issues and remained at home in the U.S.. While in Europe, Hunton lived in Switzerland and then moved to Strasbourg, Germany, where she studied part-time at Kaiser Wilhelm University.[1] When Hunton and her children moved back to America, she continued to work with the YWCA and also began to take courses at the College of the City of New York. At this time, her husband William was in a critical state with tuberculosis. The Hunton family then moved to Saranac Lake, New York, where they stayed until his death in 1916.

In 1917, the U.S. entered World War I. Hunton quickly became involved through the YMCA, and in June 1918, she set sail for France.[6] She was one of three black women, the others being Kathryn Johnson and Helen Curtis, who were assigned to work with the 200,000 segregated black troops stationed in France. Hunton soon became exposed to the racism against African American soldiers. She saw efforts by the American Command to regulate the lives of black soldiers, recreating a system reminiscent of Jim Crow. In France, Hunton began working for the Services of Supplies sector at Saint Nazaire. She introduced many new programs to increase the quality of the soldiers' lives, including a literacy course and a discussion series on art, music, and religion, and other topics. Of Hunton's many wartime efforts, a particularly gruesome assignment was given to her in May 1919.[7] She was sent to a military cemetery and was ordered to oversee and comfort black soldiers who were assigned to recover the dead from the battlefield of the Meuse-Argonne and rebury them.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In July 1893, she married William Alphaeus Hunton, who was working in Norfolk, Virginia to establish the Young Men's Christian Association for Negro youth. Hunton worked closely with her husband as his secretary. In 1899, the couple moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Hunton gave birth to four children, of which only two survived infancy, including Eunice Hunton. After seven years in Atlanta, the couple moved to Brooklyn, New York due to the Atlanta riot of 1906, as they feared for their safety.

From 1909 to 1910, Hunton took her children to study at the Kaiser Wilhelm University in Strasbourg, France, after which she enrolled in courses at the College of the City of New York. In 1914, Hunton husband William died. Hunton and Kathryn Johnson wrote a book documenting their experience of war time tragedies and race-relations within American forces, titled Two Colored Women With the American Expeditionary Forces, published in 1920.[9] She published a book about her husband’s life and work entitled William Alphaeus Hunton, A Pioneer Prophet of Young Men in 1938. She died in Brooklyn on June 21, 1943, having dedicated her life to issues of racial and gender equality.[10]


Hunton is known for her commitment to peace, race relations, and the empowerment of the African American community, especially women. She created a three-part peace strategy. First, she encouraged African American women to create an international organization for themselves.[6] Second, Hunton believed that African American women should get involved in the Pan-African movement, which was predominantly male-dominated at this point. Finally, she aimed to involved African American women in the mainly white U.S. movement for peace.


  • William Alphaeus Hunton: A Pioneer Prophet of Young Men. 1938
  • Two Colored Women with the American Expeditionary Forces, with Kathryn M. Johnson. 1920



  1. ^ a b "Hunton, Addie Waites (1866-1943) - The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  2. ^ Goodier & Pastorello 2017, p. 126.
  3. ^ "Addie Waites Hunton - Oxford Reference". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Addie Waites Hunton - WANMEC". Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  5. ^ "Hunton, Addie D. Waites (1875–1943) - Dictionary definition of Hunton, Addie D. Waites (1875–1943) | FREE online dictionary". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  6. ^ a b c Chandler, Susan (2005). "Addie Hunton and the Construction of an African American Female Peace Perspective". Affilia. 20 (3): 270–283. doi:10.1177/0886109905277615.
  7. ^ Brown, Nikki (2006). Private Politics and Public Voices: Black Women's Activism from World War I to the New Deal. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. pp. 86–105.
  8. ^ Boyd, Herb (11 Feb 2016). "Addie Waites Hunton, a crusader for justice and women's rights". New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved 2 Feb 2017.
  9. ^ Hunton, Addie Waites; Johnson, Kathryn (1920). Two Colored women with the American Expeditionary Forces. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Eagle Press.
  10. ^ Quintana, Maria. "Hunton, Addie Waites (1866-1943)".