BHM: Charlotte Hubbard

This post should have posted on 2/26/10 but was eaten by the wordpress fairies:

Charlotte Hubbard was the first black woman deputy assistant of state public affairs. At the time of her appointment, she was the highest ranking woman in a permanent position in the White House ever. She was also the first African American appointed to an important position at a television station when she began work as Community Service Director of WTOP-TV in Washington DC.

Hubbard joined the State Department in 1963 as Coordinator of Women’s Activities. While advocating for women’s issues she also initiated community meetings on Foreign Policy. These meetings were held in cooperation with community organizations around the country in order to better educated the N. American people about current foreign policy and make the role of the U.S. government and its policies more transparent; unlike the fireside chats of Roosevelt and the online videos of Obama, these meetings took place in local communities as well as the White House and involved an exchange of information between government and community leaders. In 1964, she was the moderator for the U.S. State Department Regional Briefing Conference which brought in diplomats from around the world.

Prior to her work in the government, she was a national community relations advisor for the Girl Scouts of America, where she not only honed her own leadership skills but that of other black women and girls.  In 1950, director of the Director of Field Relations at Tuskegee Institute. Her work at Tuskegee represented a long family history of work on educational equity and commitment to the education of black people in N. America. Hubbard had over 15 years of educational right’s advocacy under her belt before then-President Johnson appointed her to his administration.

She was also a strong advocate for workers rights. She spent two years in the leadership of the Political Action Committee of the Congress of Industrial Organizations a trade union organization that was one of the only large union organizations actively supporting African American workers. She talks about her time with the unions, as well as the rest of her career in an interview on file at Harvard as part of the Women in Federal Government Oral History Project.

During World War II, she worked tirelessly to ensure social programs for servicemen and women, especially African Americans struggling to survive. She was also a race and human relations consultant working on issues of racial discrimination in the military. Her work was instrumental in providing welfare and recreational facilities for service people and support staff. During the Vietnam War she worked to eliminate racial discrimination against African-American soldiers as well.

Despite her long term work with the U.S. government, her high ranking and historically groundbreaking position in the Johnson Administration, and her families long term involvement in the civil rights and black education movements, very little is actually available about Hubbard’s important contributions to black herstory online or in published book form. Her erasure is a great shame but perhaps this post will motivate one of you readers who is a grad student in history to think about a new topic … (Hint: there is a whole section of both her and her family’s papers on file at the Library of Congress)

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