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Walters, Lelia Coleman
Birth Year : 1866
Death Year : 1949
Lelia Coleman Walters, born in Bardstown, KY, was the second wife of Alexander Walters. She broke many racial barriers, including becoming the first African American woman principal of a public school in Kentucky; for nine years she was principal of the Shelby Street School in Louisville. In 1916, by executive order of President Wilson, Walters was employed as a clerk and interpreter with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service on Ellis Island; she retired in 1935. For twelve years, she was also president of the African Redemption Society, where she was associated with Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey. Walters had attended school in a Roman Catholic convent and graduated from Louisville High School. In 1895, she completed a business course at Coon's Commercial High School in Kansas City, MO, and was the first African American to graduate from any Missouri school for whites only. For more see "Mrs. Alexander Walters," New York Times, 03/18/1949, p. 25; and Lelia Walters photo on p. 72, and additional information, in My Life and Work by Bishop Alexander Walters [available full text at the UNC Documenting the American South website].
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Migration North
Geographic Region: Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Kansas City, Missouri / New York City, New York