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Fri, 03.23.1906

Aline Black, Educator born

Aline Black

*Aline Black was born on this date in 1906. She was a Black educator and activist.

Aline Elizabeth Black was from Norfolk, VA; she attended Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (later Virginia State University).  Black began working as a science instructor in the local school system in 1924. At the same time, teaching and continued her education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she received an M.S. in 1935.

As a Black teacher, she received a substantially smaller salary than a comparably qualified white teacher. When the Norfolk Teachers Association and the Virginia State Teachers Association, together with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), decided to challenge the double standard as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Black volunteered to be the plaintiff in the suit. Filed in the state circuit court in Norfolk in March 1939, the local court dismissed the case, and Black's attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, filed an appeal.

In June 1939, Black lost her teaching contract in retaliation for her suit against the school system. The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals denied the appeal because Black was no longer an employee.  Another Norfolk teacher, Melvin O. Alston, took Black's place as plaintiff, and a new suit was filed. In November 1940, the United States Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that teacher salaries fell under the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Norfolk School Board then promised to raise the salaries of Black teachers.  In 1941 the Norfolk school board rehired Black, and she resumed teaching science at Booker T. Washington High School.

Black married Frank A. Hicks during World War II and had one daughter.   She remained there until 1970, when she became an instructional development specialist at Jacox Junior High School, retiring in 1973.  Aline Black died on August 22, 1974, in Norfolk, where she was buried at Calvary Cemetery.

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