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Crystal Bird Fauset

2023 Women’s History Month

31 Historical Women from Philly

Crystal Bird Fauset, the first African American female state legislator in the USA.

Fauset grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but spent her adult and political life in Philadelphia.

Between 1914 and 1918 Fauset worked as a public-school teacher in Philadelphia. 

In 1918, she began working as a field secretary for African American girls in the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).

In 1925, the Interracial Section of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC or Quakers) was formed, and Fauset joined the organization in 1926She aimed. Her goal was to work on her interest “in having people of other racial groups understand the humanness of the Negro wherever he is found.” 

Between September 1927 and September 1928, she made 210 appearances before more than 40,000 people for the AFSC. 

During the late 1920’s Fauset studied at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, graduating in 1931.

In 1932, Fauset founded the Colored Women’s Activities Club for the Democratic National Committee where she helped African American women register to vote. 

In response to her efforts the Roosevelt Administration appointed her Director of the Women and Professional Project in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Philadelphia. 

In 1935, she also served on the Federal Housing Advisory Board. That same year Crystal Bird married sociologist and political thinker Arthur Fauset ,and became a dynamic political couple.

Fauset then began to work on the Joint Committee on Race Relations of the Arch and Race Streets (Quaker) Yearly Meetings where she helped establish the famous Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations which documented employment and housing discrimination against Pennsylvania African Americans.

In 1938, Fauset was elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature, being the 18th District of Philadelphia, which was 66% white at that time. As a state representative, Fauset introduced nine bills and three amendments on issues concerning improvements in public health, housing for the poor, public relief, and supporting women’s rights in the workplace.