Elizabeth Ross Haynes: Persuasive Advocate for Improved Conditions
Elizabeth R. HaynesAfrican-American activist, writer, and administrator Elizabeth Ross Haynes was born July 30, 1883, in Lowndes County, Alabama, the daughter of prosperous farmers Henry and Mary Cames Ross. She was valedictorian of her class at State Normal School of Montgomery and received an A. B. degree from Fisk University in 1903. In 1910, she married sociologist George E. Haynes, co-founder of the Urban League, with whom she shared common beliefs about racial uplift, women’s rights, and survey research. She got her M. A. in sociology from Columbia University in 1923; her master’s thesis was the most comprehensive study of Black women in America until the 1970s.

Haynes was a persuasive advocate of job training and improved social conditions and services for urban Black workers. Due to her organizational skills and realistic approach to better race relations, she accepted segregated social agencies as long as Black professionals staffed them. Often this put her at odds with more militant leaders, but it also made Haynes an essential link between white reform groups and Black women’s groups. From 1908, Haynes was the YWCA’s student secretary for work among colored women.

Her efforts over a two-year period increased the number of Black YWCAs, and in 1922, she became the first Black person on the YWCA's national board, a position she held until 1934. Haynes was a New-Deal Democrat, becoming a co-leader of Harlem’s 21st assembly district in 1935, a member of the colored division of the national Democratic speaker’s bureau in 1936, and the only woman appointed to the State Temporary Commission on the Condition of the Urban Colored Population.

Haynes wrote The Black Boy of Atlanta in 1952. Elizabeth Haynes died on October 26, 1953, in New York City.

Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Darlene Clark Hine, editor
Carlson Publishing, Inc., Brooklyn, New York, 1993