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Black women have a long and proud history of advancing the cause of education in America. Their groundbreaking accomplishments – particularly in higher education –inspire, encourage, and challenge not only black women, but people of every race, age,  gender, and economic background to pursue their dreams.  From the first black female PhD graduates to the first black female presidents of prestigious universities, the 7 women on this list are game changers in the world of education and beyond.

Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander

In 1921, when Dr. Sadie T. M. Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School, she became the first black person in America to earn a doctorate in economics, and only the second black female to earn a doctorate in any area. Following graduation, Alexander enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and helped found the National Bar Association. In 1927, she was the first black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Adding to this impressive list, Alexander was the first black woman to pass the bar exam, and when she went to work for her husband’s law firm, Alexander became the first black woman to practice law in Pennsylvania.  In 1948, President Harry Truman appointed her to his Committee on Civil Rights, where she coauthored the Commission’s report, “To Secure These Rights,” which laid the foundation for Truman’s civil rights policy.

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