Anna Arnold Hedgeman
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Anna Arnold was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to William James Arnold II and Marie Ellen (Parker) Arnold. She moved with her family to Anoka, Minnesota, when she was very young. The Methodist church and the school were vital parts of the Arnold family’s life. Her father created an encouraging environment that stressed education and a strong work ethic. Hedgeman learned how to read at home but was not permitted to attend school until she was seven years old.
In 1918, Hedgeman graduated from high school. In the same year, she attended Hamline University, a Methodist College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and was the college’s first African-American student. In 1922, Hedgeman became the first African-American graduate, having earned a B.A. degree in English. While in college, she heard W. E. B. Du Bois speak, which inspired her to succeed as an educator. For two years, Hedgeman taught English and History at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where she experienced the humiliation of segregation for the first time. Anna Arnold Hegemony began work in the community in the 19201s when she became executive director of a black branch of the YWCA in Jersey City, New Jersey. She worked for the YWCA as an executive director in Ohio, New Jersey, Harlem, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.
Throughout the 1930s, Hedgeman remained active in protest activities, her militancy resulting in a forced resignation from the directorship of the black branch of the Brooklyn YWCA. In 1936, she married Merritt Hedgeman, an interpreter of African-American folk music and opera, in New York City. In 1944, she became the executive secretary of the National Council for a Permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). In 1946, Hedgeman served as assistant dean of women at Howard University. She received honorary degrees from Howard and Hamline Universities. In 1954, she became the first African American woman to hold a mayoral cabinet position in the history of New York. In 1958, she held a position as a public relations consultant in Fuller Products Company. She became an associate editor and columnist for New York Age in 1959. Then she held a position as a Coordinator of Special Events for the Commission of Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches in 1963. In later years, she owned Hedgeman Consultant Services in New York City.
In 1966 she became a co-founder of the National Organization for Women.
Hedgeman served as teacher, lecturer, and consultant to numerous educational centers, boards, and colleges and universities, particularly in the area of African-American studies. She traveled to Africa and lectured throughout the United States, especially in black schools and colleges, as an example of a black hero. She stressed to students the importance of understanding history as a basis to achieve equality.
Hedgeman held memberships in numerous organizations, such as the Child Study Association, Community Council of the City of New York, National Urban League, NAACP, United Nations Association, Advisory Committee on Alcoholism, Advisory Committee on Drug Addiction, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Hedgeman was the author of The Trumpet Sounds (1964), The Gift of Chaos (1977), and articles in numerous organizational publications, newspapers, and journals.
Hedgeman, who had been a resident of the Greater Harlem Nursing Home, died on January 17, 1990, in Harlem Hospital.
- Bolden, Tonya (1996). The Book of African-American Women: 150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters. Adams Media Corporation. ISBN 1-55850-647-0
- Lanker, Brian (1999). I dream a world: portraits of black women who changed America. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. ISBN 1-55670-888-2
- Answers.com, Black Biography: Anna Arnold Hedgeman [link accessed 2007-04-22]
- The African American Registry: Anna Hedgeman was a force for civil rights [link accessed 2007-04-22]
- Hedgeman, Anna Arnold (1964). The Trumpet Sounds. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.