Yesterday, we were saddened to hear of the passing of an influential member of our YWCA family and a voice for righteousness, Glendora Putnam. Today, we remember her many accolades and achievements. Glendora was a woman of influence, never moving aside for the gender and racial barriers she faced, and never wavering in her life-long fight for social justice.
A graduate of Bennett College, she went on to attend Boston University Law School in the late 1940’s and was among the first African American women to graduate. While being honored in 2013 at YW Boston’s Academy of Women Achiever’s Luncheon, Glendora spoke of the hurdles she cleared through education, stating, “I decided that I was going to law school, and I was going to kick open every door that had ever been shut on me.” After earning her law degree and joining the Massachusetts Bar, she began her renowned career as a civil rights attorney, becoming the first African American woman to hold the title of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in Massachusetts.
While working her way up to positions of influence, she used the power she had in these roles, along with the perseverance she used to get there, to make a great and lasting impact on the state of civil rights wherever she deemed necessary. The positive differences she made were celebrated, often in the form of awards, including YW Boston’s Academy of Women Achievers and Sandra B. Henriquez Racial Justice Awards. She was also recognized by Boston’s Museum of African American History as a Living Legend and gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was fitting due to her over 60 years of dedication to eliminating racism and empowering women.
Glendora’s courageous leadership will long continue as an example for those of us in the YWCA network, and her personal commitment to our mission will always be celebrated.
To hear about Glendora’s legacy in her own words, view her remarks from YW Boston’s Academy of Women Achievers luncheon in 2013.