Elizabeth Ross Haynes improved Black lives

Elizabeth R. Haynes
Mon, 1883-07-30

The birth of Elizabeth Ross Haynes in 1883 is marked on this date. She was an African American activist, writer, and administrator.

She was born in Lowndes County, AL, the daughter of prosperous farmers Henry and Mary Cames Ross. Elizabeth Ross was class valedictorian at State Normal School of Montgomery, and she received an A. B. degree from Fisk University in 1903. She got her M. A. in sociology from Columbia University in 1923. Haynes’ 1923 Master’s thesis was the most comprehensive study of Black women in America until the 1970s.

In 1910, Ross married George E. Haynes, a sociologist and co-founder of the Urban League, and they had one son. The couple found commonalities in racial uplift, women’s rights, and survey research.

Ross was a persuasive advocate of improved social conditions and services job training for urban Black workers. She took a realistic approach to better race relations, accepting segregated social agencies as long as Black professionals staffed them. Often this would put her at odds with more militant leaders, but it also made Haynes an essential link between White reform groups and Black women’s groups. From 1908, Haynes was the YWCA’s student secretary for work among colored women.

Her efforts over a two-year period increased the number of Black YWCAs. In 1922, she became the first black person on the Y’s national board (a position she held until 1934). She was a New Deal Democrat, becoming a co-leader of Harlem’s 21st Assembly District in 1935, a member of the colored division of the national Democratic speaker’s bureau in 1936, and the only woman appointed to the State Temporary Commission on the condition of the urban colored population in 1937.

She also wrote "The Black Boy of Atlanta" in 1952. Elizabeth Haynes died on October 26, 1953 in New York City.

Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

To be a Writer

Person / name: 

Haynes, Elizabeth Ross