Zelma George *1903-1994*
In the 1950’s Zelma George served on national government committees during the Eisenhower administration: she was a good-will ambassador and an alternate U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1960-61. On a return trip home from lecturing at Bethune-Cookman College, she stopped in Orlando to visit relatives. During a delay at their airport, she took a seat in a waiting room and was approached by a police officer to leave the room: “Get out you Yankee trouble-maker or I’ll throw you out!” She responded angrily to the room of 75 people:
“I am a United States delegate to the United Nations. Not long ago I returned from a round-the-world lecture tour at the request of the State Department. I was trying to create for people in foreign lands an image of my country as a land where all men are created equal and freedom is everyone’s birthright. Is there no one in this room who will stand up for me now?”There was no one who spoke up for her.
From 1966-74 she was the Director of the Cleveland Job Corps where it experienced tremendous growth. Even in her retirement and after the death of her husband, she lectured, wrote and taught at Cuyahoga Community College in the Elders Program; her classes were extremely popular due to her experience, knowledge and passion.
She died in Shaker Heights. Today, there is shelter for homeless women and children named in her honor.