Women History Month

African American Women Pharmacists and the Women's Movement

In the 1890s the National Federation of African American Women, the Women’s Era Club, and the National League of Colored Women joined forces and formed the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), which favored women’s suffrage and called for the rights of all women, but also campaigned against lynching and Jim Crow laws. They also favored better education for African American women and put forth efforts to improve childcare and care for the elderly. The founders were very well known and respected in the African American community and included: Harriett Tubman, Margaret Murray Washington, Frances E. W. Harper, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and Mary Church Terrell. By 1924, NACWC numbers had risen to over 100,000 nationwide. Many African American women pharmacists joined the NACWC movement. In addition to the NACWC and their regional chapters, some of the organizations of which African American women pharmacists formed, became officers, and members included the Tuesday Evening Club, Federation of Women’s Clubs, National Negro Business League, National Council of Negro Women, and the National Urban League Guild.

Julia Pearl Hughes Coleman

Julia Pearl Hughes Coleman, Phar.D. (Howard, 1897)   joined with Mary Church Terrell (first President, NACWC) in 1917 to form the Wage-Earning Colored Women’s Association. The purpose of the Association was to create an employment bureau connected to science schools for blacks, as a way of elevating their standard of work by developing skills so that they would be more marketable to all employers. Her service and advocacy efforts did not stop there. While serving on the Board of Directors of the National Equal Rights League in 1922, Dr. Coleman and other Board members presented an adopted resolution to the U.S. Congress urging them to renew their efforts against the Ku Klux Klan by passing the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. In 1925, she served terms as President and Secretary of the New York City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.

Amanda V. Gray Hilyer

Amanda Victoria Gray Hilyer, Phar.D. (Howard,1903) was a member of the National Association of Colored Women Clubs (NACWC). She was actively engaged alongside Dr. Mary Church Terrell, Dr. Rosetta Lawson, and others in recruiting members and arranging meetings in local churches for the NACWC, the Young Women Christian Temperance Union (YWCTU), and the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) in Washington, D.C. in the late 1890s. In  1908, she was elected as 3rd Vice President of the Negro Business League of Washington, D.C., a branch affiliate of the National Negro Business League (NNBL) and later served as President of the Howard Women’s Club in 1927. 

Hattie Hutchinson

Hattie Hutchinson, Ph.G. (Highland Park, 1908) was a prominent member of the in the Iowa State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs (ISFCWC) in the early 1900s and served the organization as Corresponding Secretary for several years. The ISFCWC provided needed support for the education of young women attending major universities in Iowa and housing for those who were not allowed to live in dormitories on their main campuses. At the 11th Annual Convention of the ISFCWC, held May 28-30, 1912 in Sioux City, IA, Hattie was elected to serve as Treasurer.

Clara Smyth Taliaferro

Clara Smyth Taliaferro, Phar.D. (Howard, 1904), active in the African American Women’s Movement, was a founding member and first president of the Tuesday Evening Club of Social Workers, which is still active and continues today. The Tuesday Evening Club was founded in 1909 to help meet the social needs of black children and young adult youths. The Club’s aim was to provide facilities where adolescents and young adults would have a wholesome outlet for their social and recreational needs. It was affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women and a member of the Federation of Women’s Clubs, founded by Mary McLeod Bethune. Dr. Taliaferro served as an officer and participated as a member of both organizations.

Beebe Stevens Lynk

Beebe Stevens Lynk, Ph.C. (UWT, 1903) was active in the Women’s Clubs, including membership in the National Association of Colored Women Clubs and also served as a chapter officer (Treasurer), delegate, and member of the Credentialing Committee in the Tennessee Federation of Colored Women Clubs in 1914.

Ella Phillips Stewart

Ella Phillips Stewart, Ph.G. (Pittsburgh, 1916) one of the pioneering female pharmacists in the African American Women’s movement, served as the 14th President of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs from 1948-1952. Under her leadership and with her keen sense for business, Mrs. Stewart restructured the NACWC to run more like a business corporation than a social club. Prior to becoming president of NACWC, she had served for twelve years as its Treasurer and editor-in-chief of the organization’s newsletter, the National Notes. She also served as the president of the Ohio Association of Colored Women’s Clubs for six years and was vice-chairperson of the American Committee of the Pacific and Southeast Asian Women's Association where she worked with the U.S. Department of State to raise the literacy standards in Asian countries. not only became one of the most well-known women in the African America Women’s Movement, but also throughout the world.

Etnah Rochon Boutte

 Mrs. Etnah Rochon Boutte, Ph.G. (Columbia, 1923) became active in the African American Women’s Movement. She served as the Executive Secretary of the New York Circle for Negro War Relief, 1917-1919. Under Mrs. Boutte’s leadership the Circle of Negro War Relief was able to provide very needed services and supplies to the black soldiers and their families that had been lacking from the American Red Cross. She also served as the New York representative on the Executive Committee and State Directors of the Anti-Lynching Crusade. In 1945, she became President of the New York Metropolitan Council of the National Council of Negro Women.

Mollie V. Moon

Mrs. Mollie V. Moon, Ph.C. (Meharry, 1928) founded the National Urban League Guild and served as its first-time volunteer President from 1942 to 1990. Mollie Moon (then Mollie Lewis-Blanchet) graduated from Meharry Pharmaceutical College with the Ph.C. degree in 1928. Instead of focusing on her pharmacy career, she devoted a lifetime to uplifting the black community. Because of her leadership, the Council of Urban League Guilds were formed and continues to exist today through 85 chapters in four regions across the U.S. The mission of the Urban League movement is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights.