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Harriett G. Jenkins

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Information about Harriett G. Jenkins

Profile image of Harriett G. Jenkins

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Research Manager

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Teal
Favorite Food:
Salad (Caesar)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mazatlan, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/26/1926
Birth Location:
Fort Worth, Texas

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Research Manager

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Teal
Favorite Food:
Salad (Caesar)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mazatlan, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/26/1926
Birth Location:
Fort Worth
See how Harriett G. Jenkins is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Harriet Elizabeth Jenkins was born on July 26, 1926 in Forth Worth, Texas. She and her sister were raised by an aunt and uncle after the death of both her parents before she was ten years old. At he age of fourteen, in 1941, she graduated from I.M. Terrill High School and received a full scholarship to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

She attended Fisk from 1941 until 1945, where she earned her bachelor's of arts degree in mathematics. In 1945, she left Nashville and joined her sister in California, where she worked in a clerical position at Pacific Overseas Air Service Command until 1948.

There, Jenkins worked as a writer for Golden State Insurance Company and an Identification clerk for the Oakland Police Department from 1948 until 1954. Leaving there, she began her teaching career in the Berkeley, California school system. She quickly rose through the ranks, serving as the city's first Black female vice-principal. In 1957, she earned her master's degree in education from the University of California at Berkeley. She went on to become a school principal, director of elementary education and assistant superintendent of schools. In 1974, Jenkins left Berkeley and moved to Washington, D.C. to be with her husband.

From 1974 until 1992, Jenkins worked as the assistant administrator for equal opportunity programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). During her nearly twenty-year tenure at NASA, she was responsible for implementing several programs that assisted minorities and women, including recruiting some of the agency's first African American astronauts. Her efforts extended beyond the astronaut program and included providing more opportunities for minorities in NASA's procurement contracts and research efforts. Under her leadership, university research centers were started and supported in Historically Black Colleges. In 1984, she earned her law degree from Georgetown University.

From 1992 until 1996, she worked with the U.S. Congress and served as the director at the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices in the U.S. Senate. Her duties included ensuring the requirements of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 were administered for all Senate employees and the Capitol Police. Jenkins also assisted Senate staffs in implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Jenkins retired from the federal government in 1996. In 2000, NASA established a fellowship program in her name, awarding doctoral fellowships to qualifying minority students. She was the recipient of numerous awards and honors including placing her retirement in the Congressional Record.

Jenkins passed away on December 21, 2016.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harriett G. Jenkins's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harriett G. Jenkins lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about her parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about being raised by her maternal uncle and aunt
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her older siblings and her family ancestry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her earliest memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harriett G. Jenkins shares significant memories from her childhood in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about her childhood neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her experiences in public school in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about graduating from I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth, Texas at age fourteen
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her experiences at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her academic pursuits at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harriett G. Jenkins recalls her first jobs in California after graduating from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes living in California in the 1940s and 1950s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about opportunities for African Americans in California during the 1950s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about her early career in education at Berkeley Unified School District in Berkeley, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her experiences as principal of Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about supervising special education programs as principal of Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes the desegregation of Berkeley Unified School District in the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harriett G. Jenkins reflects on the impact of desegregating Berkeley Unified School District
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about her decision to leave Berkeley, California in 1973
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes the events that led her to be hired by NASA
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about efforts to hire more women, minorities and individuals with disabilities at NASA
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about NASA bringing African Americans into its astronaut corps
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes how efforts to increase diversity evolved while she was employed at NASA
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about developing programs to hire more minorities at NASA in research and development
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes the fellowship program that NASA developed in her honor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about heading the Office of Fair Employment Practices at the U.S. Senate
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her involvement with the Montgomery County Commission on Human Rights
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about her thoughts on affirmative action and diversity in American society
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harriett G. Jenkins reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harriett G. Jenkins describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Harriett G. Jenkins reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Harriett G. Jenkins talks about why she believes history is important
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harriett G. Jenkins narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harriett G. Jenkins narrates her photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harriett G. Jenkins narrates her photographs, pt. 3