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Gaines, Irene McCoy (1892–1964)

Gaines, Irene McCoy (1892–1964)

African-American civil-rights activist, civic and social worker. Name variations: Irene McCoy. Born Irene McCoy on Oct 25, 1892, in Ocala, Florida; died April 7, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois; dau. of Charles Vivien McCoy and Mamie (Ellis) McCoy; m. Harris Barrett Gaines, 1914; children: 2 sons (b. 1922, 1924).

During WWI, worked with War Camp Community Service; became industrial secretary for 1st black branch of Young Women's Christian Association, Chicago, IL (1920); was president of Illinois Federation of Republican Colored Women (1924–35); was Republican state central committeewoman for 1st Congressional District (1928); served on President's Housing Commission (1930); worked with Cook Co. welfare department (1930s–1945); was president of Chicago Council of Negro Organizations (CCNO, 1939–53); though unsuccessful, was 1st black woman to run for IL state legislature (1940); with CCNO, led march to Washington to protest employment discrimination against blacks (1941); was historian and recording secretary of National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, and served 2 terms as president (1952–56); founded Chicago and Northern District Association of Club Women and Girls, and served as president. Received numerous awards, including George Washington Honor Medal from Freedoms Foundation (1958) and Distinguished Alumni Service Award from Fisk University (1959).

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