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Inez J. Baskin, an African American journalist and civil rights activist, was born on this date in 1916.
Born in Florala, AL., she was the only child of parents who stressed the importance of education. Baskins earned a degree in education from what is now Alabama State University, became a licensed social worker, and then earned a degree in divinity from Selma University.
She was a church pianist for several congregations over the years and also taught ministers at theological schools and conventions. She implemented the first Head Start program in Montgomery and she also developed and implemented the first hot-lunch program serving low-income children. After briefly teaching, Baskin rose from a position as a newspaper typist to write stories that documented some of the most tumultuous moments in the nation's history for the Montgomery Advertiser.
As a journalist, Baskin was a reporter for the Advertiser's "Negro News" section. The Advertiser said that when the boycott was organized after Rosa Parks' arrest in 1955, Baskin was hired to cover the event for Jet magazine as well as for the American Negro Press. "The importance of what she did in helping create documentation of everything that was going on here when it was one of the most important cities anywhere can't be overstated," said Ed Bridges, director of the state Department of Archives and History. As a supporter of the boycott and a journalist, Baskin took a seat right in front of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., when Montgomery's buses were finally desegregated.
In her later years, her goddaughter, LaWanda Mason Goodwine, and Baskin established the Willie Mae Goodwine and Inez J. Baskin Scholarship of Journalism at Edinboro University. With sterling delivery and a blunt but sometimes humorous way of speaking, she shared stories of the past with audiences of young people. Earlier this in 2007 she gave a keynote address at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, where a scholarship was established in her honor.
Inez Baskin died June 30, 2007, after suffering an internal ailment and being too weak for surgery.
Montgomery Advertiser 425 Molton St.
Montgomery, AL 36104