Deverne Lee Calloway

Deverne Lee Calloway

Politician —

DEVERNE CALLOWAY WAS BORN in Memphis, Tenn., on June 17, 1916. She attended LeMonyne-Owen College in Memphis and did graduate work at Atlanta University and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She taught school in Georgia and Mississippi before joining the American Red Cross and traveling to China, Burma and India during World War II. While in India, she led a protest against the segregation of black soldiers in Red Cross facilities.

Calloway moved to Chicago after the war and became a member of the Congress of Racial Equality in 1946. She later joined the staff of the Jewish Welfare Fund and developed skills in fundraising.

DeVerne and her husband Ernest moved to St. Louis where he became president of the St. Louis NAACP.

Calloway was elected to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives on her first bid for public office in November 1962, becoming the first Black woman elected to the state legislature. She served on the House committees on education, public health, safety and social security. She also served on the Elections Committee, Accounts Committee and as chairman of the Federal-State Relations Committee.

During her career in the legislature, she worked actively to increase state aid to public education; to improve welfare grants and services for dependent children, the blind, the disabled and the elderly; and to reform prisons.

In November 1980, she retired from public office at the conclusion of that legislative term. DeVerne Calloway passed away in 1993.

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