“We will not rest until there is justice in our beloved country and we know that as justice comes to all Americans, it will come in increasing measure to the rest of the world.”
Anna Arnold Hedgeman, The Trumpet Sounds: A Memoir of Negro Leadership, 1964
In 1922, Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the first Black student to graduate from Hamline University in St. Paul. Four decades later, she was the only woman to serve on the planning committee for the 1963 March on Washington.
After being denied work in St. Paul, Hedgeman moved to Mississippi to teach. Her mother warned her, “No matter what is said to you which you dislike, do not respond.” But Hedgeman could not remain silent. She was outraged by the injustices Blacks endured.
She moved into social work through the YWCA, which led her to activism and politics. Her prowess as an advocate for labor rights and voter education earned her a place among the likes of A. Phillip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
At the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. As she listened to him, Hedgeman thought of the Black children in classrooms across the nation pledging allegiance to the flag, with liberty and justice for all. “And always I had wondered how we dared ask them to repeat those words,” she said. Later, she recalled wishing that Dr. King had instead said, “We have a dream.”