Black News and News Makers in History: Crystal Bird Fauset

Crystal Bird Fauset, the first African-American female state legislator in the United States, was born on June 27, 1894 in Princess Anne, Maryland. She grew up in Boston, but she spent most of her adult and political life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Between 1914 and 1918, Fauset worked as a public school teacher in Philadelphia.  In 1918 she began working as a field secretary for African American girls in the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a job she held until 1926.

In 1925, the Interracial Section of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC or Quakers) was formed and Fauset joined the organization in 1926, wanting, as she said, to work on her interest “in having people of other racial groups understand the humanness of the Negro wherever he is found.”

Between September 1927 and September 1928, she made 210 appearances before more than 40,000 people for the AFSC.  During the late 1920’s Fauset studied at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, graduating in 1931.

In 1932, Fauset founded the Colored Women’s Activities Club for the Democratic National Committee where she helped African American women register to vote.  In response to her efforts, the Roosevelt Administration appointed her Director of the Women and Professional Project in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Philadelphia. 

In 1935, she also served on the Federal Housing Advisory Board.  That same year Crystal Bird married sociologist and political thinker Arthur Fauset and they became a dynamic political couple.  Fauset then began to work on the Joint Committee on Race Relations of the Arch and Race Streets (Quaker) Yearly Meetings where she helped establish the famous Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations which documented employment and housing discrimination against Pennsylvania African Americans.

In 1938, Fauset was elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature, representing the 18th District of Philadelphia, which was 66 percent white at that time.  As a state representative, Fauset introduced nine bills and three amendments on issues concerning improvements in public health, housing for the poor, public relief, and supporting women's rights in the workplace.

Black news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Crystal Bird Fauset this week in Black history.In 1941, Fauset’s friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped her secure a position as assistant director and race relations director of the Office of Civil Defense, becoming part of President Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet” and promoting civil defense planning in black communities, recruitment of blacks in the military, and dealing with complaints about racial discrimination.

In 1944, disappointed by the Democratic Party’s failure to advance civil rights, Fauset switched to the Republican Party and later became a member of the Republican National Committee’s division on Negro Affairs.

After World War II, Fauset turned her attentions to a more global forum, helping to found the United Nations Council of Philadelphia, which later became the World Affairs Council.

Throughout the 1950s, she travelled to Africa, India, and the Middle East to meet and support independence leaders.

Fauset died on March 27, 1965 in Philadelphia.

Compiled from http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aah/fauset-crystal-bird-1894-1965.


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Black News and News Makers in History

9/11/1740: Pennsylvania Gazette first mentions an African American doctor or dentist in Colonies.

9/12/1913: James Cleveland Owens (Jesse Owens), winner of four gold medals at Berlin Summer Olympic Games, born.

9/12/1935: Richard H. Hunt, sculptor, born.

9/12/1947: Jackie Robinson, first African American baseball player in major leagues, named National League Rookie of the Year.

9/12/1992: Dr. Mae Jemison becomes first African-American woman in space after launch from Kennedy Center to join Spacelab J, a joint U.S.-Japanese mission.

9/13/1886: Alain L. Loke, philosopher & first African American Rhodes scholar, born.

9/13/1898: Albert A. Jones, with Amos E. Long, invents bottle caps.

9/13/1962: President Kennedy denounces burning of churches in Georgia & supported voter registration drive in the South.

9/13/1981: Isabel Sanford, actress, wins Emmy award as best comedic actress for 'The Jeffersons'.

9/14/1861: John S. Rock, physician, dentist, educator, abolitionist, becomes one of first African Americans admitted to Massachusetts Bar before Civil War.

9/14/1921: Constance Baker Motley, attorney, first Black American woman federal judge, born.

9/15/1945: Jessye Norman, opera singer known for stage presence, vocal range & ability to convey emotion, born.

9/15/1978: Muhammad Ali, prize fighter, first African American to gross more than five-million dollars gate in bout at Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans where he won in 13-round unanimous decision becoming first to win heavyweight title three times.

9/16/1925: Ripley "B.B." King, blues singer, born.

9/17/1968: 'Julia', first television show since 'Beulah' in 1950s to star an African American woman, Diahann Carroll, premieres on NBC.

9/17/1983: Vanessa Williams becomes first African American crowned Miss America.