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*On this date, in 1882, Jane Edna Hunter was born. She was a Black activist and reformer.
From South Carolina, Hunter’s life was typical for a Black woman of her time. Despite her sporadic education, she earned a nursing degree from Hampton Institute. She worked as a domestic servant and moved to Cleveland, searching for a better future in 1905.
With little help from single Black women by 1911, she and a group of other women formed the Working Girls’ Home Association. Two years later, the organization, now called the Phyllis Wheatley Association (PWA), had gained financial support from some white resources and the grudging support of Black leaders, who were uncertain about the prospects of an all-Black home.
The PWA had lodging, a cafeteria, recreation, domestic training, and more; in 1927 they moved to a larger facility because of an ever-growing residency. Hunter also served as an officer of the National Association of Colored Women, heading its big sister department. Conflict with the board of directors caused Hunter to resign from PWA in 1947, though she continued her work for reform in the community. When Jane Edna Hunter died in 1971, her will provided scholarships for Black women to attend college.