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Sun, 05.23.1926

Aileen Hernadez, Union Activist born

Aileen C. Hernadez

*Aileen Hernandez was born on this date in 1926. She was a Black union organizer, civil rights, and women's rights activist.

Aileen Clarke Hernandez was born in Brooklyn, NY, to Jamaican American parents. She was educated in New York City and attended Howard University, where she received a magna cum laude degree in political science and sociology.  She also has a master's degree in government from California State University in Los Angeles and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College. She married Alfonso Hernandez in 1947; they divorced in 1951.

Hernandez was initially active as an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and became the Education and Public Relations Director for the Pacific Coast Region of the Union. In 1962, she was later appointed Deputy Chief of the California Division of Fair Employment Practices. As a result of this work, she became known nationally and was appointed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 as the only woman to serve on the newly established Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and resigned in 1966 to form an independent urban consulting firm, Aileen C. Hernandez Associates.

In 1970, she was the second national president of the National Organization for Women, and in 1973 was a co-founder of Black Women Organized for Action in San Francisco. Under her leadership, NOW organized the Women's Strike for Equality in 1970. Her last position was coordinator of Black Women Stirring the Waters and chair of the California Women's Agenda, a state action alliance of over 600 organizations.

Hernandez was one of the 2006 honorees of the National Women's History Project. She was also the 1993 Tish Sommers Lecturer at the Institute for Health and Aging of the University of California, San Francisco, and the 1993 Regents Scholar in Residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Aileen Hernandez died on February 13th, 2017, at 90.

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