Aileen Clarke Hernandez (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: As president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), director of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Aileen Hernandez has represented the interests of women and minorities in the forefront of social reform.
Aileen Clarke was reared in Brooklyn by her parents Charles and Ethel Clarke, who had emigrated from Jamaica in the British West Indies and eventually became American citizens. Her mother was a costume maker and seamstress in the New York theater district, and her father worked in the art supply business. Aileen and her brothers were taught to cook and sew, since her parents believed that no gender distinctions should be made in employment. They also emphasized people should not be treated differently regardless of race or gender. This family value left an indelible mark on Aileen that would deeply influence her life and career. She was graduated from Bay Ridge Public School as valedictorian, and in 1943 from Bay Ridge High School as class salutatorian. Aileen received a scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. She served as editor and writer for the campus paper The Hilltop, and wrote a column for the Washington Tribune. In 1946, she received honors in Kappa Mu Society, Howard’s counterpart to Phi Beta Kappa.
Her political philosophy was molded by her...
(The entire section is 1643 words.)
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