Nannie Helen Boroughs


Nannie Helen Boroughs was born around the 1880s in Orange, Virginia.

Her parents were formerly enslaved and her father sadly died whilst she was young.

This led to her and her mother relocating to Washington D.C. Nannie was a bright student, excelling at school and graduating with honours.

Despite her academic accomplishments, Nannie was turned down for a Washington DC Public school position.

Nevertheless, she forged ahead with plans to open her own school. 

Her focus was educating and training poor working-class African-American girls and women.

Boroughs sent a proposal to the National Baptist Convention, and they bought six acres of land. The next hurdle was raising money to build the school.

Boroughs relied on small donations from Black women and children to build it.

It would be called the National Training School for Women and Girls.

The general consensus at the time was that women shouldn’t be taught skills other than domestic work but the school proved to be popular in the first half of the 20th Century.

It originally operated from a small farmhouse, then in 1928, a larger building named Trades Hall was constructed.

It held 12 classrooms, 3 offices, an assembly area and a print shop.

Boroughs was an ardent supporter of Martin Luther King Jr as well as improving the livelihoods of African Americans.

As an intersectional suffragette – she wrote about the need for Black and white women to work together to achieve the right to vote.

In May 1961 Boroughs died and in 1964 the school she opened was renamed the Nannie Helen Boroughs School in her honour.

Dedicating a life to education and the betterment of Black girls and women, she defied societal restrictions placed on her gender and race.

We at Adeptales, salute you, Nannie Helen Boroughs.

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