THE VFA PIONEER HISTORIES PROJECT
Gwen Sawyer Cherry
August 27, 1923 – February 7, 1979
“You men say a woman’s place is in the house. I agree – our place is in the state house, the House of Representatives and the White House” – Gwen Cherry, April 2, 1971
Attorney, Educator, State Legislator. Founder of the National Association of Black Women Attorneys. First African-American woman to serve as a state legislator in Florida. Chaired the state’s committee for International Women’s Year in 1978. Chaired the Minority Affairs Committee for the Democratic National Convention and the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1972 while serving as legal counsel for the National Organization for Women (NOW)’s Miami chapter. Founding member of the NWPC in Washington, D.C. (July 1971), and of the first NWPC chapter in Miami (September 1971).
Photo 1. Speaking at an event on behalf of the Economic Opportunity Program, 1969. Photo 2. With Shirley Chisholm at the Democratic National Convention – Miami Beach, FL, 1972. Photo 3. Marching for the Equal Rights Amendment in Florida, 1975.
State Photo credit Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
More About Gwen:
- Gwen Cherry eulogized as ‘a deacon of hope’ – Miami News February 14, 1979
- The Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association
- Florida NOW Archive
- Film clip of the first Florida Women’s Conference to mark the International Women’s Year of 1975. Held in Orlando July 15, 16, and 17, 1977. Forty Florida women were selected by President Jimmy Carter to serve on its steering committee and worked diligently on behalf of the women of the state. Much of the program deals with a rift at the meeting between those for the Equal Rights Amendment and those against it.
- Selected newspaper clippings – 1970-1978
- Cited in Barbara Love’s Book – Feminists Who Changed America – page 81