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Aileen Clark Hernandez (1926 - 2017)

Aileen Clark Hernandez was an activist and advocate who reshaped the landscape of equality and justice. Aileen's journey began as a student leader at Howard University during World War II, where she first ignited her passion for social change in the face of legal segregation.


In 1964, Aileen made history as the first woman and the first African American appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Her tenure on the EEOC was marked by her unwavering commitment to confronting discrimination, including resigning in protest against the Commission's failure to address sexual harassment.


Aileen's dedication to intersectional activism was unparalleled. As the first African American president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), she fearlessly advocated for the rights of women of all backgrounds. Her decision to leave NOW when it failed to reflect the diversity of its members underscored her commitment to inclusivity and representation.


Throughout her life, Aileen continued to break barriers and build bridges. She co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus and Black Women Organized for Political Action, amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in the political arena. Her service on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission further solidified her legacy as a champion for social justice.


“There are no such things as women's issues! All issues are women's issues ... the difference that we bring is that we are going to bring the full, loud, clear, determined voice of women into deciding how those issues are going to be addressed.” - Aileen Hernandez

Aileen Hernandez's impact transcends generations, her legacy serving as a guiding light for activists and advocates worldwide. Even in her final days, she remained steadfast in her commitment to creating a more just and equitable society. Today, we honor her courage, her resilience, and her unwavering dedication to the pursuit of equality.


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