From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Griffin, Edna M. Williams

(born: October 23, 1909  -  died: February 8, 2000) 

Edna M. Williams Griffin, born in Carlisle, KY and grew up in Walpole, NH. She later moved to Des Moines, Iowa. She was a 1933 Fisk University graduate, and was employed as a school teacher in New York City when she enlisted in the Army in 1945, according to her enlistment record in Ancestry. She was married to Dr. Stanley Griffin, and after her military service, the couple moved to Des Moines, IA where Edna M. Griffin became a civil rights activist in the Progressive Party. She had also been an activist at Fisk.

In 1948, Edna Griffin's daughter and some friends were refused an ice cream cone in the Katz Drug Store in Iowa because it did not serve African Americans. Griffin led sit-ins, picketed the drug store, and sued the store owner. She won her civil case and was awarded $1. Griffin went on to found the Iowa Congress for Racial Equality and participated in the March on Washington in 1963. She was the co-chair of Shirley Chisholm's 1972 bid for the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States.

Edna M. Williams Griffin was the oldest of the four children of Edward and Henrietta Williams. Both of her parents were from Kenucky. The family had not been in New Hampshire very long when they were enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census. Edward Williams supported his family as a farmer. All of the children were born in Kentucky, and the youngest was two years old.

For more see T. Longden, "Edna Griffin," Des Moines Register, 01/28/2001, Metro Iowa Famous Iowans section, p. 1B; and Edna Griffin Papers, at the University of Iowa website; and "Services are set for Edna Griffin, civil rights pioneer," The Des Moines Register, 02/25/2000, p.21.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Nicholas County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Carlisle, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: African American WACs Born in Kentucky
NKAA Source: The Des Moines register (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Griffin, Edna M. Williams

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Griffin, Edna M. Williams,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 30, 2023,

Last modified: 2021-09-19 01:47:53