Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sadie T. M. Alexander

My black history "shero" for today is my Soror, Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander. Born in Philadelphia, she became the first black woman in the U.S. to receive a Ph.D., earning the degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. However, sexism and racism prohibited her from finding work in her field. Later, she would remember the excitement and precedent-setting occasion of her graduation day and contrast it with the reality of being basically barred from her chosen field: "All of the glory of that occasion faded, however," she said, "when I tried to get a position."*

Undeterred, she worked for a while at an insurance company before re-enrolling at Penn, this time, in the law school. Her successful completion earned her the distinction of being the first black woman to earn a law degree from Penn.

During her successful career as an attorney, her life proved to be a litany of firsts. You can read more about them here.
*Francile Rusan Wilson, " 'All of the Glory... Faded... Quickly': Sadie T. M. Alexander and Black Professional Women, 1920-1950." in Sister Circle: Black Women and Work, ed. Sharon Harley and the Black Women and Work Collective (Rutgers University Press, 2002), 166.

No comments:

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...