Her Work Won Pay Raises For Black Teachers

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Leslie Taylor-Grover
April 20, 2021

Jessie McGuire Dent had never been a shrinking violet. When she saw bad things happening, she got involved. She’d worked together with her sorority sisters to fight the racism in the women’s suffrage movement. Now she was about to make a change with another group of her peers.

Dent was a public school teacher, and she noticed that she and her fellow Black teachers had the exact same education, experience, and workload as white teachers, yet were paid MUCH less. Dent called attention to this – but after getting ignored or talked down to by white administrators, she decided, in 1943, to sue!

Dent knew she had to go through with the lawsuit, not just for herself, but for her people. Since so many Black teachers lived in the same communities, more income would make the whole communities better off. So what happened?

She won her lawsuit! Black teachers were now paid the same as white teachers. Her fight had a major positive impact on teachers, students, and the communities in which they lived.

Dent’s actions improved life for her entire town. As Dent’s success shows, when we act in the best interests of ourselves and our community, we can have a huge impact. It is possible to improve our own lives and those of our community members as we fight for our rights!

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