Continuing Black History Month
Continuing Black History month, I want to focus on Dorothy Pitman Hughes (1938-2022). Growing up in the American south Dorothy experience segregation and discrimination. She listened while her mother and other women met on the front porch to talk about ways to make their families’ lives better. Dorothy knew from a young age that she wanted to help other people.
Born to Make A Difference
Dorothy was born on 2 October 1938, in Lumpkin, Georgia. Moving to New York City and volunteering in the Civil Rights Movement when she was just 19 years old, working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. She organized New York City’s first shelter for battered women. She also co-founded the New York City Agency for Child Development to broaden childcare services in the city.
Black Female Entrepreneur
Once she was married and had children, Dorothy saw the trouble working mothers had in finding proper daycare for their children. Many women at that time just left their children home alone while they worked. Dorothy helped families by setting up a childcare center where she lived in Harlem. It was called the West 80th Community Childcare Center. By the 1980s, Dorothy had moved to Harlem and opened an office supply business, Harlem Office Supply.
A True Advocate
As an advocate, she worked to help others throughout her life. Dorothy co-founded Ms. magazine to share stories about women’s issues. She created community gardens so people would have access to fresh vegetables. Pitman Hughes was always finding new ways to improve people’s lives.
A Final Tribute – A lifelong Friend
Gloria Steinem, remembering her friend at the time of her death in December 2022 said; “Dorothy Pitman Hughes’ time was too short. But, you’d never know it: from creating the West 80th Community Childcare Center, an innovative and ahead of its time multiracial childcare center, to Harlem’s first bed & breakfast, nothing stopped her.”
Gloria also said; “I have been lucky to call Dorothy a friend and lifelong co-conspirator. She encouraged me to speak in public, and we spent years traveling across the country. Her devotion to children’s welfare, racial justice and economic liberation means that she left the world in a better place than she found it.”
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