White society never expected much from Black women. Lucy Diggs Slowe and her friends knew this when they enrolled at Howard, which was at the time stocked with white male teachers and administrators. Slowe knew they HAD to advocate for themselves.
National sororities and fraternities were a crucial way for college students to build community and make connections that would help them in their future careers – but Black people were excluded.
Instead of trying to convince whites to allow us in, Slowe and some fellow students formed the first Black women’s sorority in 1908 to groom professional Black women – and Slowe was elected president! But that was just her first power move.
After graduating as valedictorian and earning her Master’s at a time when few Black people even had access to college, Slowe established the first Black junior high in Washington, D.C., creating a Black-centric environment with educators who BELIEVED in us. And she was appointed principal!
Every step of her career, Slowe overcame racism or sexism to create Black-led systems to make sure we had access and support!
Remember, when Black people direct Black education, we can combat white supremacy while empowering our communities with institutions that serve US!