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Florance Saunders Farley
*Florence Saunders Farley was born on this date in 1928. She was a Black psychologist, educator, politician, and community activist.
Florence Saunders was born in Roanoke, Virginia, to Neoda and Stacious Saunders. she attended Harrison elementary school in Roanoke. After graduating as the salutatorian of her class from Lucy Addison High school in 1946, Farley graduated from Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) with her B.S. degree in psychology and her M.S. degree in educational psychology in 1950 and 1954, respectively.
In 1951, Farley was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Women's Army Corps (WAC) and became the first African American female training officer at Fort Lee, Virginia. Farley served as Chief psychologist at Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, and was the first African American clinically licensed, by examination, as a psychologist in the state of Virginia. Farley then joined the faculty at Virginia state university, where she taught graduate and undergraduate students for over forty years and served as the chair of the department of psychology.
Farley obtained her Ph.D. degree in psychology in 1977 from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Farley also began her political career in 1973 when she was the first woman elected to the Petersburg City Council and became a member of Virginia's first majority black city council. Farley won re-election in 1978 and 1982. In 1984, after Mayor R. Wilson Cheely resigned, Farley became the first female mayor of Petersburg and the first black woman to become mayor of a Virginia city.
From 2002 to 2006, Farley served on the Petersburg school Board and held the post of the vice chair during her time on the school board. Farley has also received acclaim as a textile artist, exhibiting her needlework in libraries and museums across the state. In 2010, Farley was recognized by The Library of Virginia as an "African American Trailblazer in Virginia History." Farley maintains an independent psychology practice in Petersburg. Florence Saunders Farley died on August 29, 2022.