A’zalia Delancey Coffey was a remarkable African American woman who overcame tremendous adversity to become a successful entrepreneur, community leader, and advocate for social justice. Born in the segregated South during the early 20th century, she faced discrimination and limited opportunities throughout her life. However, through hard work, determination, and a commitment to her community, she built a thriving business and helped pave the way for future generations. This article will explore the life and legacy of A’zalia Delancey Coffey, highlighting her accomplishments and contributions to American history.
Early Life and Education
A’zalia Delancey Coffey was born in Weldon, North Carolina, in 1904. Her parents were both farmers and instilled in her a strong work ethic and a sense of community. However, the South during that time was deeply segregated, and African Americans faced discrimination in all aspects of life. Despite this, Coffey was determined to pursue an education and attended a segregated school in Weldon. She later went on to attend Scotia Seminary in Concord, North Carolina, an all-black school for women.
Career and Entrepreneurship
After completing her education, Coffey moved to Washington, D.C., and began working as a domestic servant. However, she soon realized that she wanted to start her own business and provide for her family on her own terms. In 1938, she founded Coffey’s Beauty and Barber Supply, a company that sold hair and beauty products to African American salons and barbershops.
Coffey’s business was an immediate success, and she quickly expanded to other cities throughout the United States. She also became involved in the National Beauty Culturists’ League, a professional organization for African American beauticians. Through her work with the league, Coffey helped to standardize beauty practices and improve the quality of education for African American beauticians.
Coffey’s success as an entrepreneur and her dedication to her community earned her numerous accolades and awards throughout her life. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Coffey was a successful businesswoman and a passionate advocate for social justice and equality. She was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and participated in numerous civil rights demonstrations and marches throughout the 1960s.
Coffey also worked to promote economic empowerment within the African American community. She provided financial assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs and donated to various charitable causes, including the United Negro College Fund and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Legacy and Impact
A’zalia Delancey Coffey’s life and legacy inspire generations of African Americans and entrepreneurs. Her success as a businesswoman and her dedication to her community is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and a commitment to social justice.
Coffey’s impact on the beauty industry is also significant. Her work with the National Beauty Culturists’ League helped standardize beauty practices and improve African American beauticians’ education quality. Her legacy can still be seen in the many African American beauty salons and barbershops that continue to thrive today.
A’zalia Delancey Coffey was a true trailblazer, a woman who overcame tremendous adversity to become a successful entrepreneur and advocate for social justice. Her story is a testament to the resilience and determination of the human spirit and serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to achieve true equality and justice for all people