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Mon, 04.19.1920

Arnita Boswell, Educator born

Arnita Y. Boswell

Arnita Young Boswell was born on this date in 1920.  She was a Black activist and educator.

From Detroit and she and her sister & brother were raised in Lincoln Ridge, Ky.  Her father, Whitney M. Young Sr., was president of the Lincoln Institute. Her mother, Laura Ray Young, was the first African American postmaster in Kentucky and the second in the United States. She nurtured her vocation for community service along with her brother, Whitney Young Jr. and her sister, Eleanor.

Her brother became National Urban League president and pioneered the movement for equality for African Americans in the armed forces.  They all came out of a strong family environment, so there was a history of being engaged in the civil rights struggle and being involved in the educational advancement of the African American’s. Boswell earned a bachelor's degree in home economics from Kentucky State University, in the mid-1940s and a master's degree in social work from Atlanta University in the late 1940s. She received an honorary doctoral degree in social work from the University of Colorado, in Boulder.

She also participated in World War II as head of recreation for the Black soldiers stationed in Germany.  In 1953, she married dermatologist Dr. Paul Boswell, who died in 1982.  Most of her professional life was dedicated to teaching and social services. She was a professor of social work at the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1980. After that, she served as director of social services for families with children with special needs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Boswell served as director of the Family Resources Center at the Robert Taylor Homes; she was the first national director for Project Head Start and for the social workers of the Chicago Public Schools.

Boswell was also a founder of Chicago's League of Black Women, the Woman's Board of the Chicago Urban League, and the National Hook-Up of Black Women. Mrs. Boswell died July 6, 2002 at a hospital in Los Angeles. She was 82.


The Face of Our Past
Images of Black Women from Colonial America to the Present
Edited by Kathleen Thompson and Hilary Mac Austin
Copyright1999, Indiana University Press
ISBN 0-253-336535-X

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