Aileen Hernandez

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Aileen Clarke Hernandez (born May 23, 1926) is an American union organizer, civil rights activist, and women's rights activist.


She was born May 23, 1926, in Brooklyn, NY, to Jamaican-American parents, was educated in New York City, and attended Howard University, where she received a magna cum laude degree in political science and sociology. She also has a master's degree in government from California State University at Los Angeles and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College. She married Alfonso Hernandez in 1947; they divorced in 1951.

She was initially active as an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and became the Education and Public Relations Director for the Pacific Coast Region of the Union. She was later appointed Deputy Chief of the California Division of Fair Employment Practices from 1962 to 1965.[citation needed] As a result of this work, she became known nationally and was appointed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 as the only woman to serve on the newly established Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and resigned in 1966 to form an independent urban consulting firm, Aileen C. Hernández Associates.

She was second national president of the National Organization for Women in 1970, and in 1973 was a co-founder of Black Women Organized for Action in San Francisco. It was under her leadership that NOW organized the Women's Strike for Equality in 1970.

She was one of the 2006 honorees of the National Women's History Project. She also was the 1993 Tish Sommers Lecturer at the Institute for Health and Aging of the University of California, San Francisco, as well as the 1993 Regents Scholar in Residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Her current position is coordinator of Black Women Stirring the Waters and chair of the California Women's Agenda, a state action alliance of over 600 organizations.


Preceded by
Betty Friedan
President of the National Organization for Women
Succeeded by
Wilma Scott Heide