Thyra J. Edwards (1897-1953)
in 1897, Thyra J. Edwards sought
to find places for black women in the international community.
After receiving training in social work at the Chicago School
of Civics and Philanthropy, Edwards pursued her interest in child
welfare through a variety of social work positions that showcased
her work with children, which gave way to the founding of her
own children’s home. Also keenly interested in labor relations,
Edwards studied labor management issues at Brockwood Labor College
in New Jersey.
America's dismal handling of child welfare concerns weighed
heavily on Edwards, which led her to the International People's
College in Elsinore, Denmark. There - in 1931, during a six-month
fellowship awarded by the American Federation of Labor (AFL)
- she studied a wide range of areas with a concentration on child
welfare legislation and industrial relations. Legendary labor
leader, A. Phillip Randolph, who headed the Brotherhood of Sleeping
Car Porters, was a mentor to Edwards and was key to her receiving
Edwards took a life long interest in the plight of oppressed
working-class people of the world and spent the rest of professional
life integrating social work and internal affairs.