Verda Welcome – The first Black Woman to be elected to a state senate in the United States

Feb 02

Verda Freeman Welcome

Birth: March 18, 1907

Death: April 22, 1990

Achievements:

  • The first Black Woman to be elected to a state senate in the United States

Biography:

Verda Freeman Welcome (1907-1990) was born in Lake Lure, North Carolina in 1907. As one of fifteen children to farmers John and Docia Freeman, Verda struggled with limited resources and an inadequate amount of money for education. But her determination to acquire knowledge gave her the motivation to work during the day and attend school in the evening. 

This schedule took a toll on her and she was encouraged to drop out of school. Welcome came to Baltimore in 1929 to further her education. She graduated from Morgan State College, a part of the class of 1939 with a bachelor’s degree. After earning a Master of Arts degree from New York University, she became a teacher in the Baltimore City Public School System for eleven years. 

In 1959, she was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates to represent the Fourth District of Baltimore City and became the first African-American female to hold this distinguished position, serving for three years. Welcome received the Woman of the Year Award in 1962, which was presented by the Women’s Auxiliary to the National Medical Association. After her tenure, Welcome was elected to the Maryland Senate going down in history as America’s first African-American female state senator, serving from 1962 until 1982. 

Some of her legislative accomplishments include passing legislation dealing with such issues as discrimination in public accommodations, funding the construction of Provident Hospital, creating the rank of lieutenant for policewomen in Baltimore City, equal pay for equal work, harassment of welfare recipients, illegal employment practices, and several other reforms in the state of Maryland. 

In 1988, she was inducted into Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. The Maryland Commission established this Hall of Fame in 1985 for Women and the Women Legislators of Maryland. It seeks to honor Maryland women who have made lasting contributions to the economic, political, cultural, and social life of the state and to provide visible models of achievement for future female leaders. Welcome joined other inductees such as Mary Elizabeth Lange, Maryland Senator Barbara Ann Mikulski and historical figure Harriet Tubman. Throughout her life, she also received several other awards and citations during her lifetime. Verda Welcome died in 1991, but her legacy still lives on today. 

Source:

MSU Spokesman, Morgan State University, March 11, 2005

Suggested Reading

My life and times
Author: Welcome, Verda Freeman.
Personal Author: Welcome, Verda Freeman.
Publication Information: Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Henry House Publishers, Inc., c 1991.

 

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