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Hester C. Jeffery
*The birth of Hester C. Jeffrey is celebrated on this date in c. 1842. She was a Black activist, suffragist, and community organizer.
Hester C. Whitehurst was born to free black parents, Robert and Martha Whitehurst, in Norfolk, Virginia. She was educated and was considered an accomplished musician. In 1860, Jeffrey and her brother and sister moved to Boston, living with her uncle, Coffin Pitts. She married R. Jerome Jeffrey in 1865. Her husband's father, the Reverend Roswell Jeffrey, was a political activist in Rochester. Jeffrey eventually moved to Rochester in 1891.
In Rochester, she became involved in the Political Equality Club and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Jeffery later became a national organizer for the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC). She served as the National Organizer of Colored Women's Clubs, New York State President of the Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, County Superintendent of the WCTU, Secretary of the Third Ward WCTU, and Section President of the Needlework Guild of America.
Jeffrey helped create clubs for Black women, including Susan B. Anthony Club for Black women. This club worked towards women's suffrage and created a Mothers' Council to help women with small children. Other clubs she created were the Climbers and the Hester C. Jeffrey Club for young black women. The Hester C. Jeffrey Club helped raise money for young black women to take classes at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She served on the Douglass Monument Committee, which raised funds and commissioned the first monument to an African American in 1897, a statue of Frederick Douglass, in Rochester, New York.
She directed the music at its unveiling and the memorial service. Jeffrey was friends with Susan B. Anthony. Jeffrey was the only layperson to give a eulogy at Anthony's funeral service in 1906. She was sted to represent on "behalf of the negro" at the funeral. The eulogy expressed both sorrows for Anthony's death and praised her advocacy for women's suffrage. Jeffrey also created the first memorial for Anthony, a stained-glass window installed at the AME Zion church and unveiled in 1907. Jeffrey moved back to Boston to live with her relatives several years before dying on January 2, 1934.
She is buried in an unmarked grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett next to Phoebe Whitehurst Glover.