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Sue Bailey Thurman
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Advocate
    (August 26, 1903-December 25, 1996)
    Born in Pine Buff, Arkansas
    Birth name was Sue Elvie Bailey
    Author, lecturer, historian and civil rights activist
    Wife of social critic, writer, and theologian, Howard Thurman (m. 1932)
    Taught at Hampton University; soon after became the National Secretary for the Student Division with the YWCA, focusing on international work, in 1930
    Along with her husband, was among the first African-Americans to attain an audience with Mahatma Gandhi during a six-month mid-1930s trip through Asia
    Credited as key influences of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in promoting non-violent resistance as a means of developing social change
    Helped to establish what is widely believed to have been the first racially integrated church in the United States, the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, in 1944
    Initiated the publishing efforts of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) by founding the Aframerican Women’s Journal
    Attended the San Francisco Conference for the founding of the United Nations as part of an unofficial delegation
    After her husband's death, took over the management of the Howard Thurman Educational Trust, a research scholarship fund for black students (1981)
    She held her wedding at the Lincoln Academy dining hall.
    She published a cookbook as a ploy to discuss social reform and black history.
    She was initially unenthusiastic about her husband establishing an interracial church in San Francisco.
    The Negro Delegation hesitated to select her to accompany her husband on the Asia trip for fear of nepotism accusations.
    She tried to get Gandhi to tour the United States, but he turned her down.
    Her biographer claimed that she eventually became 'weary... of the airy philosophical discussion between her husband and Gandhi' during their India trip.
    Her teaching career at Hampton University was cut short when she was accused of writing anonymously to W.E.B. Du Bois to complain about conditions under the predominantly white administration (when the real author was actually a close friend of Bailey's).
    She and her husband never actively participated in civil disobedience protests during the Civil Rights Movement, although they encouraged those who did.
    She was the first non-white student to earn a bachelor's degree in music from Oberlin College.
    She studied classical art while on sabbatical in Mexico.
    She was a colleague and good friend of Langston Hughes and Mary McLeod Bethune.
    She traveled with a quintet giving concerts in Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, London, and Paris.
    She initially cautioned against reading Rabindranath Tagore her 'History of Negro Music' thesis, but she reportedly impressed him with her knowledge of slave spirituals.
    She reportedly asked the toughest questions of Mahatma Gandhi during their audience with him (even asking him why he never worked with South African natives).
    She and her husband served as spiritual counselors and advisors to many activists on the front lines during the Civil Rights movement.
    She was known for being closer to Martin Luther King, and his wife Coretta, than her husband was.
    This was evinced by her recommending MLK for a leadership position in their new Fellowship Church, a proposal Howard Thurman soundly vetoed.
    She helped establish the Museum of Afro-American History, in Boston (1963).
    She was honored with a Centennial Award at Spelman College, sharing the honor with UNESCO director Herschelle Sullivan Challenor (1979).
    She organized one of the first international scholarship programs for African-American women.
    She organized forums/lectures, as part of the Fellowship, for the parishioners to learn about other ethnic groups and their cultures, covering everything from the Judaism to the Navajo culture.
    She was an avid collector of ethnic dolls, which she gave to universities to promote understanding of cultural differences (as she did with Livingston University in honor of United Nations Day).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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