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Sat, 08.31.1907

Lulu Belle Madison White, Activist born

Lul Belle Madison White

*Lulu Belle Madison White was born on this date in 1907. She was a Black teacher and activist in Texas during the 1940s and 1950s.

Lulu Belle Madison was born in Elmo, Texas, to Samuel Henry Madison and Easter Madison. She was the tenth of their twelve children. Elmo was a predominately black community thirty-five miles north of Dallas, a region of Jim Crow.  In 1923, White enrolled at Butler College in Tyler, Texas, for a year before transferring to Prairie View College (now Prairie View A&M University) in Hempstead, Texas. Here, she received a bachelor's degree in English in 1928.

Following graduation, White married Julius White, a Houston businessman, NAACP member, and voting rights advocate. White could not find a job in Houston due to her husband's connection with the American Civil Rights Movement. White took a teaching position in Lufkin, Texas, where she taught English and physical education. After nine years of teaching, White resigned to become a full-time activist with the NAACP. White soon became the first woman to become a full-time salaried executive secretary of a local chapter of the NAACP.

White took many initiatives to help Blacks gain the right to vote. She played a role in eliminating the white primaries in 1943, which stated that only whites could vote in Democratic Party primaries. White thought it was essential for African Americans to have equal civil liberties and economic opportunities. In promoting this idea, she encouraged African Americans to seek employment opportunities at businesses that were white establishments. While White adopted this notion of equal employment opportunity, she frequently refused to be seen by management and was turned away. To highlight the inequality of employment opportunities among races, she organized group demonstrations condemning managers of this behavior. Because of this, White was labeled a communist.

In 1949, White stepped down from executive secretary of the Houston branch after disagreements with Carter Wesley over racial integration. However, she remained the Director of State Branches. White led the movement for the Houston City Council to pass an ordinance that would allow city hospitals to employ Black doctors, helped organize protests for Black women to be able to try on clothes in department stores, and worked to integrate taxi companies.

She went on to be a field worker for the national branch of the NAACP.  White remained an activist in the black community until her death of heart disease on July 6, 1957. She is buried in Paradise South in Houston, Texas. The week before her death, the local NAACP created the Lulu White Freedom Fund in her honor.

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