Orator, educator, and activist Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879–1961) founded a school for women, expressed her sensitivity for the African-American working woman through her leadership in national organizations, and was described by an NAACP leader as “a combination of brains, courage, and incorruptibleness.”
Born in Orange, Virginia, to parents who were formerly enslaved, she and her mother moved to Washington, D.C., following her father's death. After graduating from high school, she worked as a bookkeeper and editorial secretary for the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention in Lexington, Kentucky. It was through the NBC that she proposed the founding of the National Training School for Women and Girls in Northeast D.C. in an effort to give black women more career choices and the opportunity to receive an education and job training. She served as president of that school from its opening in 1909 until her death in 1961. After her death, the school was renamed the Nannie Helen Burroughs School to honor her life and commitment to educating black women.