Dovey Johnson Roundtree was born on April 17, 1914 and died May 21, 2018. Before the news of Dovey’s passing was announced, her name nor her story was familiar to me. Dovey’s accomplishments were instrumental in the advancement of women and African Americans at a time in history when neither women or blacks were considered for high ranking professions.
In a historical review of her life, Dovey captured the title of “first” in several of her career professions. She was a teacher, an officer in the army, a lawyer, and a minister. Living to 104 years old, she was able to experience and see many of the rights she fought for become reality. Although Dovey’s story has lingered in the background because of personal and political reasons, it is time we honor her by sharing her story.
According to an article in the New York Times, these are some milestones of Dovey Johnson Roundtree:
- Dovey was born in North Carolina
- She taught 7th and 8th grade after graduating from Spelman (then known as the black Vassar) with a double major in English and Biology.
- Mary McCleod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt were instrumental in Dovey becoming one of the first women in the Army where she rose to the ranking of Captain. She also recruited many African American women in to the Army during war time.
- She went to Howard University’s Law School and was one of five women in her class.
- Three years before Rosa Parks, as a lawyer, Dovey assisted with the landmark ban on segregation in interstate bus travel.
- The greatest criminal case of her career, the United States v. Raymond Crump Jr., in which she won acquittal for a black man accused of the murder of a white Washington socialite.
- In 1960, Dovey became an ordained minister