Mamie Geraldine Neale Bledsoe

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Mamie Neale Bledsoe
Mamie Geraldine Neale Bledsoe, from a 1924 publication.
Mamie Geraldine Neale Bledsoe, from a 1924 publication.
Mamie Geraldine Neale

Louisburg, North Carolina
DiedMarch 1, 1991
Detroit, Michigan
Occupation(s)civil rights activist, government official

Mamie Geraldine Neale Bledsoe (1900 – March 1, 1991) was an American educator and civil rights activist, director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division of Michigan. She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1983.

Early life[edit]

Mamie Geraldine "Gerry" Neale was born in Louisburg, North Carolina and raised in Freehold, New Jersey, the daughter of Thomas Neale and Ellen Gatsey Neale.[1] She earned a teaching certificate at Trenton Normal School in 1919, and was enrolled in a summer course at Rutgers University,[2] where she met and dated Paul Robeson.[3] She finished a bachelor's degree at Howard University in 1924.


Bledsoe moved to Michigan with her husband in the 1920s and worked as a teacher in an adult literacy program. She worked for the Works Progress Administration during the Depression. She was an interviewer for the Michigan Unemployment Compensation Commission (the Michigan Employment Security Commission). She was a member of the Detroit Study Club, a black women's literary organization in the city. She served on the board of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP and in the Women's Division of the United Negro College Fund.[4]

Bledsoe was director of Michigan's Equal Employment Opportunity Division[5] when she retired in 1970.[4] In 1980 she received the "Distinguished Warrior Award" from the Detroit Urban League. In 1983 she was in the first class of inductees elected to the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.[6][7]

Personal life[edit]

Mamie Neale married lawyer Harold Edward Bledsoe in 1924.[1][8] They had three children, Cornelia, Geraldine, and William.[9] Her daughter Geraldine Bledsoe Ford[10] and her son William Bledsoe III[11] both became judges. Her daughter, Cornelia, developed an early preschool program in Detroit that became the prototype for the national Head Start program.[12][13] She was widowed when Harold died in 1974.[14] She died in 1991, aged 91, at her daughter's home in Detroit.[15] The Michigan legislature issued a memorial resolution soon after her death, recounting her achievements.


  1. ^ a b "Mamie Neale Married". Monmouth Democrat. March 12, 1925. p. 4. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  2. ^ University, Rutgers (1920). Catalogue. Rutgers University. pp. 273. Mamie Geraldine Neale.
  3. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H. (2012-10-18). Robeson: An American Ballad. Scarecrow Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 9780810885233. Gerry.
  4. ^ a b "Detroit Pays Tribute to Working Women; Ten Singled Out for Special Honors". Detroit Free Press. March 15, 1970. p. 46. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  5. ^ Hinkley, Justin A. (October 27, 2015). "22 Michigan women to name government buildings after". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  6. ^ Meyer, Zlati (October 19, 2014). "This week in Michigan history: Women's Hall of Fame". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  7. ^ "Area Women Among Hall of Fame Nominees". Battle Creek Enquirer. June 16, 1983. p. 7. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Honored in Michigan". The Daily Register. August 1, 1934. p. 3. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  9. ^ Stewart, Linda (September 11, 1990). "Social Worker Had 'Loving and Generous Spirit'". Detroit Free Press. p. 14. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  10. ^ Hackney, Suzette (October 9, 2003). "Geraldine Bledsoe Ford; Detroit Judge Blazed Trails". Detroit Free Press. p. 222. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  11. ^ Rossiter, Joe (November 17, 2006). "William Bledsoe III; Judge Known for Quiet Authority". Detroit Free Press. p. 19. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  12. ^ "Concurrent Resolution Passed by U.S. Senate". Federal Sentencing Reporter. 16 (5): 360. June 2004. doi:10.1525/fsr.2004.16.5.360. ISSN 1053-9867.
  13. ^ "Front Matter". Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts. 65 (4). February 1990. doi:10.1086/dia41504826. ISSN 0011-9636.
  14. ^ "Harold Bledsoe". Detroit Free Press. March 11, 1991. p. 45. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via
  15. ^ Mathews, Lori (March 5, 1991). "Mother's Many Jobs Included Fighting for Rights". Detroit Free Press. p. 10. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via

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