Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly was the first woman of color to start a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Chapter in June 2012 She became the first woman of color elected to the (DAR) National Board June 2019. http://www.cuny.tv/highlight/SP2000065
Historic Advance for Daughters of the American Revolution
Brooklyn College/CUNY graduate Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly is the first woman of color to start a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter. CUNY TV, in a segment of its monthly newsmagazine Study With The Best, profiles Ms. Kelly and tells the story of the DAR’s historic resistance to inclusion and change, as well as the organization’s dramatic turnaround in recent decades.
Founded in 1890 by and for women whose ancestors were patriots in the Revolutionary War, the DAR gained notoriety in 1939 when it denied Marian Anderson, a popular African American contralto, the right to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. At the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who resigned her DAR membership, Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial instead; portions of that historic performance are featured in the story.
The DAR has evolved over the years since the Anderson incident to welcoming women of all races, religions and ethnicities, including selecting Ms. Kelly to be head of a new chapter – the Increase Carpenter Chapter in Queens, NY, launched in June 2012. The CUNY TV report explores Ms. Kelly’s family tree, tracing her lineage to a patriot and to other significant Americans, and features interviews with others in the new chapter: Charlene Fletcher Brown, a LaGuardia Community College adjunct lecturer; Cate Ludlam, President of the Prospect Cemetery in Queen, where the chapter meets; and Madelaine Piel, a descendant of Increase Carpenter for whom the chapter is named.
The new chapter was subject of a front-page New York Times story on July 4, 2012, cited in the segment: www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/nyregion/for-daughters-of-the-american-revolution-more-black-members.html
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