Anne Ewing

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Not to be confused with Ann Ewing (disambiguation).
Anne Ewing
Born (1930-11-19)November 19, 1930
Wytheville, Virginia
Died April 11, 2011(2011-04-11) (aged 80)
San Diego, California
Nationality American
Occupation Advocate
Known for Women's rights advocacy

Anne Ewing (November 19, 1930 – April 11, 2011) was an American biologist and activist for women's rights. She is known for her advocacy for women's rights and her role in removing racist and sexist language from primary school readers in California.[1][2]


Early life and education[edit]

Anne Ewing was born Ann Drayton Heuser on November 19, 1930 in the upstairs bedroom of her family's home located in Wytheville, Virginia.[1][3] Born "blue", the attending doctor asked her father for a bit of liquor from his hip flask to revive the baby.[4] It worked. As a youngster, Ewing was taken care of by and had much affection for Josie Williams,[5] who worked in the family's home; and by her grandfather, Henry Massillon Heuser, commonly known as "The Judge" since he was the judge for the community.[6] She graduated from Wytheville High School on June 6, 1947; she was the senior class's Vice-President.[7] She matriculated to Marion Junior College the following year, where she distinguished herself in basketball and in field hockey.[3] Then she went on to the College of William and Mary to finish her Bachelor's degree in Biology in 1951.[3] Her first desire was for a degree in chemistry, but the head of the department would not graduate a female student, so she switched to biology.[4]

Next, Ewing earned a Master's degree in Botany from the University of Tennessee in 1952.[3] She then continued her graduate studies at Michigan State University, East Lansing, working toward a Ph.D. in Botany. Afterwards, she taught at University of North Carolina, Greensboro; University of North Carolina, Raleigh; and at Pennsylvania State University, State College.[3]

In 1957, Ewing married Robert Radlow and the couple had two children, a son and a daughter.[3] The family moved to San Diego, California, in 1968; the couple divorced in 1980. At that time, she legally changed her name to Anne Dungan Ewing, taking her children's middle names to make a new name for herself.[4]

Ewing died on April 11, 2011 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder at the age of 80 in her home in San Diego, California [1] Per her request, in lieu of flowers at her memorial on May 1, 2011, donations in her memory were given to Planned Parenthood of San Diego.[3]

Career as a biologist[edit]

Ewing worked as a research fellow for three years (1972-1975) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California,[1] designing and conducting research to understand salt-tolerance in plants.[8] Later, she worked in the Planning and Land Use Office of the County of San Diego (1975-1995).[1][3] Ewing worked to protect numerous native plants and animals from losing their homes to development projects. She also was a lead planner for the Otay Ranch section of Chula Vista, California. Additionally, she was an active member of the Torrey Pines Association, a non-profit organization that encourages public interest in the preservation of the Torrey pine tree and its habitat.[1][9]

Career as an activist[edit]

Ewing began her activism as a college student and participated in the civil rights movement in the segregated south.[10] After moving to San Diego, she became involved with women’s rights issues.[10] In the early 1970s, she joined the San Diego County Chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women, and began working on the Education Task Force.[11] As part of that organization, she worked hard in support of Title IX, an amendment to the 1965 Higher Education Act securing equal access to educational programs—including sports programs—regardless of sex, until its passage in 1972.[11] She then began to agitate for the elimination of sexist and racist readers in the primary schools. As a part of that effort, Ewing served as the chair of California NOW's Education Task Force.[3] On June 7, 1974, she wrote a guest editorial in The San Diego Union newspaper entitled, "Are California's textbooks fair to Jane?: Stereotypes Remain In Latest Materials."[1][12] Under Ewing's leadership, California NOW presented a report to the California State Board of Education that clearly showed that the readers being used in the primary schools contained sexist and racist themes.[11] California NOW requested that the California Education Board remove these readers and replace them with more appropriate texts. When the Board refused, California NOW threatened to sue the California Education Board over their reluctance to change the clearly sexist and racist texts used in the primary schools. Eventually, the California Education Board yielded and banned texts that had obvious sexism and racism, using the criteria developed by Ewing.[10][11] The new readers removed racist and sexist language and included the contributions of both men and women in all types of roles, including professional, vocational, and executive. Soon after the rest of the nation followed suit.[13] Concurrent with this achievement, in 1974 the U.S. Congress passed the Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) ensuring that elementary and secondary school books for all American children depicted positive roles for all races and sexes.

She also served as the President of the San Diego County Chapter of NOW from 1975-1976.[1][14] In 1976, she founded the San Diego County Chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus, and served as its President from 1976-1978.[3][10]

Ewing was also a strong supporter of women's rights to choose an abortion (pro-choice),[10] and worked for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.


  • The San Diego City Council Adjourned its May 3, 2011 Meeting in memory of Anne Ewing's life.[3]
  • In 2005, inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame.[1][3]
  • On March 26, 2005, received City of San Diego Special Commendation, Presented by Councilmember Donna Frye, "Anne D. Ewing Day, Activist Award"[3]
  • In 1985, named Classic Woman of the Year by the San Diego Chapter of the California Women in Government.[3]
  • In 1981, given the Certificate of Achievement from the San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use.[3]
  • in 1979, given the Alice Paul Award by the San Diego County Chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus.[3]
  • In 1978, given the Susan B. Anthony Award by the San Diego County Chapter of the National Organization for Women.[3]
  • In 1976, named Outstanding Feminist of the Decade by San Diego County Chapter of the National Organization for Women.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Anne Ewing, crusader against sexism in school books, dies at 80". Ut Sandiego 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  2. ^ Union Tribune Obituary
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Family Records[verification needed]
  4. ^ a b c Recollection by Anne Ewing[verification needed]
  5. ^ Recollection by close family friend, Virginia (Turley) Baumgardener[verification needed]
  6. ^ Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association[verification needed]
  7. ^ The Echo, Wytheville High School yearbook, 1947[verification needed]
  8. ^ Cliff Smith, "New Salt-Tolerant hybrids Could Avert World Famine", The San Diego Union, 12 January 1975, page B-1
  9. ^ "About Us". Torrey Pines.Org. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "SORTED BY YEAR-Anne Edwin Activist 2005". Women's Museum of California. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  11. ^ a b c d Coburn, Jennifer. "The Herstory of San Diego County National Organization for Women: Twenty-five Years of Feminism 1970-1995." Edited by Karen Boutilier. San Diego: San Diego NOW, 1995.
  12. ^ Anne Radlow, "Stereotypes Remain In Latest Materials," The San Diego Union, 7 June 1974, page B-11.
  13. ^ Love, Barbara J., ed. "Feminists who Changed America, 1963-1975". University of Illinois Press, 2006.
  14. ^ "Six women who made a difference-Anne Ewing". Ut Sandiego.Com. 2005-03-25. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 

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