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Sara A. Collins Fernandis

Thyra J. Edwards

Whitney M. Young, Jr.

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Thyra J. Edwards (1897-1953)

Born 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 the fellowship.

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.

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