Mary Barksdale

Mary Barksdale

Mary Zoner Hurston Barksdale Lawes (born 1920) was a prominent business woman, the owner and administrator, for twenty-seven years, of the Hurstdale Rest Home, the only black-owned rest home in western Massachusetts.


Early years

Born in 1920, in Atlanta, Georgia, Barksdale attended Spelman College [1] and migrated to the Springfield area in the 1940s. In 1952 she graduated from a Springfield area nursing school and became a licensed L.P.N. She was one of the first Black nurses to work for the Holyoke visiting nurses program and later Springfield Hospital.

Community service

Barksdale was a past President of Jack and Jill Club of America,[2] a national black mothers' organization. She was on the Board of Directors for both the Action for Equality and Achiever's Opportunity Corporations. She also received a certificate of excellence from Harvard University [3] for her work in gerontology. She, along with her late husband, Abraham Barksdale, was instrumental in the founding of the D. Edward Wells Federal Credit Union.[4]

Civil Rights

Barksdale's crowning achievement was the desegrating of Springfield Public Schools. In Barksdale v. Springfield School Committee [5] a de-facto segregation lawsuit Barksdale challenged the concept of racial isolation because the school a child attended was based on the neighborhood in which you lived. Barksdale won and Springfield Public Schools were desegregated.


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