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Barbara Ann Posey was one of the most important youth leaders early in the campaign to desegregate public spaces in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Why are they important to know about:
Barbara Ann Posey took a public stand against racial injustice when she was 15 years old. The Oklahoma City branch of the NAACP Youth Council had started sit-ins at the city’s lunch counters and she was one of its leaders. These sit-ins were begun in 1958, two years before the more well-known Greensboro college student sit-ins.
Details of the life of the person:
Barbara Ann Posey was born in 1943 in Oklahoma City. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Weldon Posey. Barbara Ann attended Douglas High School. When she was 15-years-old, her history teacher, Clara Luper, inspired Barbara Ann’s activism. Clara Luper was the sponsor for the NAACP Youth Council. She wrote a play about Dr. Martin Luther King and the Youth Council performed it for the NAACP in New York City. These students were introduced to civil rights leaders and actions, and they were inspired to end segregated facilities at home.
Barbara Ann was vice-president of the Youth Council and became the spokesperson during sit-ins and boycotts. They helped desegregate 66 businesses and other places, including parks, swimming pools, churches, and restaurants. Her activism brought her several honors. She received her first award in 1958 when Zeta Phi Beta Sorority named her “Girl of the Year.” In 1960, when she was seventeen, Barbara Ann was asked to address the national NAACP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Barbara enrolled in the University of Oklahoma. While earning a B.A. degree in government, economics, and math, she served as president of the NAACP Oklahoma Youth Conference. She then earned an M.A. degree from the University of Illinois (1966) and a Ph.D from Georgia State University (1973).
Barbara Ann Posey has spent her life dedicated to activism and education. She has taught at the University of Illinois, Texas Southern University, Atlanta University and Clark College in Atlanta (now Clark Atlanta University), and Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria. Currently, she serves on the faculty of Alabama A&M University School of Business where, in the past, she was the Dean. She has written about racial inequality in economics and unemployment and is past editor of The Review of Black Political Economy. She has also served on the advisory boards of the Rockefeller Foundation for Minority Scholars and the Wellesley College Center Research on Women. She is married to political scientist Dr. Mack H. Jones, and they are the parents of novelist and professor, Tayari Jones.
Their lasting impact:
Throughout her life, Barbara Posey Jones has been a leader in education, women’s issues, and civil rights.
What we learned from them:
Children’s interests and concerns when they are very young can lead them to turn them into their life’s work. Barbara Ann Posey Jones followed her passion for justice and civil rights all her life and led others to do the same.