Rhoda L. Brooks (abt 1888 – 1960)

Rhoda Brooks devoted her life to advancing the political and social rights of the African American community in Hartford. She moved from Virginia to Hartford with her family sometime  before 1900. Brooks graduated from college. In 1912 she married Grant Diggs who was born in Connecticut. Her early jobs included working as a teacher in a public school and, after she was widowed in 1917, as a servant for a family. In 1924 she married Samuel L. Brooks and was widowed again in 1929.

Active in Republican politics, she participated in organizing a Republican rally for the Colored Voters’ League, the Colored Women’s Republican Club, and the Colored Women’s (Independent) Voters’ League rally in 1926.

In 1931 she was selected for a City of Hartford job, and The Hartford Courant announced: “Mrs. Brooks Named Charity Investigator.” She was appointed as an investigator for the Charity Department of the Public Welfare Commission, and “her work to be concerned principally in the investigation of cases involving Negro residents of Hartford.”

Brooks served as a political, community, and church leader. A member of the Women’s League for over 20 years, she was elected for multiple offices, including that of treasurer and secretary. Brooks was also an officer for the Union Baptist Church, the Director of Religious Education for the Connecticut Baptist Missionary Union, and a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church.

During World War II, Brooks volunteered to work on the Hartford Negro Citizens Council which was involved in training North End residents to become air raid wardens.

Back to: The Work Must Be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote

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