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Celebrating the First Black Human Rights Consultant

Throughout history, African Americans have played prominent roles in forging the mission of organizations and movements that champion equality and social justice. From the Civil Rights Movement to the Black Power Movement, African Americans have been at the forefront of the fight for human rights. In this blog, we celebrate the life and work of the first black human rights consultant.

Lester Blackwell Granger was an early pioneer in introducing civil rights to social work advocacy. He led efforts to integrate white unions and the military, and was instrumental in the formation of the National Urban League. Granger was the first black person to serve as the executive director of the National Urban League, a position he held for over 20 years. During his tenure, he worked tirelessly to promote equal rights and opportunities for African Americans.

Granger's work paved the way for other African Americans to make significant contributions to the fight for human rights. Gwendolyn Brooks, for example, was the first black woman to serve as the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. She was also the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University. Her experience in college and specifically graduate-level courses helped her realize the shortage of psychological services available to the African American community and other minorities.

Joseph L. White, sometimes referred to as "the father of black psychology," was a founding member of the National Association of Black Psychologists and served as the second president of the organization. He was also a pioneer in the field of black psychology and helped to establish the first black studies program in the United States.

Claudia Gordon is recognized as one of former President Barack Obama’s key advisors for disability issues. She was also the first female deaf African American lawyer to graduate law school and pursue a career devoted to helping individuals with disabilities.

These individuals, and many others like them, have made significant contributions to the fight for human rights. Their work has helped to pave the way for future generations to continue the fight for equality and social justice. As we celebrate Black History Month, let us remember and honor the contributions of these pioneers and continue to work towards a more just and equitable society.


[1] Celebrating Our Heroes: African-American Social Service Pioneers | Simmons Online

[2] Championing Equality at Home and Overseas: African Americans Leading at the UN

[3] Remembering Gwendolyn Brooks, the First African American to win a Pulitzer Prize | Blog

[4] Before Kamala: Black Women in Presidential Administrations - Rediscovering Black History

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