Annjennette Sophie McFarlin (1935–2013)

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Annjennette McFarlin was the author of the 1976 book Black Congressional Reconstruction Orators and Their Orations, and was considered the first recognized scholar of orator Hallie Quinn Brown.  She was born on July 14, 1935 in Pensacola, Florida, the eldest of three to Clifford and Thecimar McFarlin.  Her parents moved from Florida to San Diego, California during World War II.  

A San Diego High School graduate, she began a career in nursing after high school and earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach.  Her career as a licensed vocational nurse was short-lived when she took a course in communications at East Los Angeles Community College in 1962.  Annjennette returned to school to receive a master’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1975 in communications, and a doctorate in rhetorical studies from Washington State University (WSU).  She was the second African American woman to receive a doctorate in any subject matter from WSU.  

Fluent in Spanish, McFarlin returned to the home that her parents built in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, just four miles from the Mexican border. In the late 1990s, she helped start Black Storytellers of San Diego, Inc., which is under the auspices of the national association based in Baltimore.  When she wasn’t teaching, she spent a great deal of time performing at local venues reaching out to children and people of all ages as a “storyteller.”

McFarlin taught at Northern Illinois University, Southwestern College, the University of New Hampshire, San Diego State University, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and Washington State University. She served as the chair of the speech department at Grossmont College in San Diego from 1978 to 2002.  From 1994 to 2002, she was director of the San Diego-Imperial County Community College Association Regional Faculty Internship Project.  

Annjennette McFarlin was a renowned public speaker throughout San Diego County.  She was often called upon speak to various organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the YWCA, Phi Delta Kappa, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  She was an active member and past president of Epsilon Xi Omega, the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and was instrumental establishing two undergraduate chapters, Mu Iota (San Diego citywide chapter) and Kappa Sigma Chapter (Washington State University).  She was president of the Martin Luther King Democratic Club from 2005 to 2007 and an active member of Bethel AME Church.

Dr. Annjennette Sophie McFarlin died in her home on November 26, 2013.  She was 78 and left behind one daughter, Annjennette Elizabeth McFarlin of Chula Vista, California.