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Black women artist/activists of note

February 22, 2013 in Social history

The Kentucky Foundation for Women sent a message recognizing the rich history and legacy of African-Americans across the Bluegrass by highlighting two women who made important contributions to art and social justice in Northern and Eastern Kentucky. You can read about more great Black Kentuckians by visiting the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights’ gallery online at


Jane Roberta Summers, 1895-1992

Born in 1895, Jane Roberta Summers was a longtime activist against social injustice, racism, homelessness, and hunger in Covington. Ms. Summers was the first woman manager of government subsidized apartments in Covington and held this post for 25 years. She played an important role in the original local Meals on Wheels organization and joined the staff of the Covington Community Action Commission. At the age of 77, Ms. Summers earned a paralegal degree to help meet the need for low cost legal services in her community. She was an active member of the NAACP and the Poor People’s Coalition. She passed in 1992 at the age of 97. The Jane Roberta Summers Foundation was organized to continue her work for social justice. See more at the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (


Effie Waller Smith, 1879-1960

Effie Waller Smith was born in 1879 on a farm in Chloe Creek to parents who had been formerly enslaved. Ms. Smith completed 8th grade and then trained as a teacher at Kentucky Normal School for Colored Persons in Frankfort, but her passion was writing. Her first poems were published in 1902 in local papers, followed by a volume of poetry Songs of the Months, which was published in 1904 by a press in New York City. Three short stories were published in Putnam’s before two more volumes of poetry were published in 1909, Rhymes from the Cumberland and Rosemary and Pansies. Her writing examined life, spirituality, religion, and the land. Although Ms. Smith only published for a span of 15 years, her work remains in publication today. See more at the Kentucky African Americans Database ( and Wikipedia (

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