African American women have been a vital influence in shaping our city and surrounding areas. Through researching some of the materials listed in our database, we have produced some informative biographies to exhibit influential community members. 

For our first feature we have decided to spotlight on some of the African American women of Asheville who have excelled as educators and were very impactful in our local and national school system. You can read about Julia Reid Hall here or find her biography, and others, below.

Would you like to contribute a story or materials regarding African American Women and education in Asheville or Buncombe County? If so, please contact us! 

  • Oralene Graves Simmons
    Oralene Graves Simmons was born in Mars Hill, NC during the Second World War. Her father died shortly thereafter and moved to live with her grandmother, who taught her to read and write before she entered public school. Her grandmother also taught Oralene about local botany and how to predict
  • Lucy Saunders Herring
    Lucy Saunders Herring was born in October of 1900 in Union, South Carolina, a small mill town where her grandparents, who were formerly enslaved, settled after their emancipations. In Helen Mosley Edingtons book, Angels Unaware, she describes how her grandparents gained their freedom.  “My mother had a white half-sister. My
  • Beatrice Francine Delany
    Beatrice Francine Delaney was an instrumental leader in Asheville’s public school system. She was born in 1937 in New York City, and eventually settled in Asheville. Her career in education began when she started working as a secretary to Arthur R. Edington, principal of Livingston Street Elementary School. Livingston Street
  • Julia Reid Hall
    Born in Jacksonville, Alabama in the 1920s, Julia Reid Hall loved learning growing up. All of her public school experience was segregated, as was the norm in the first half of the 20th century American South. Her parents taught her to ignore acts of hate and work towards an education.