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The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons

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Information about The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons

Profile image of The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Education Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Rack of Lamb
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
U.S. Virgin Islands
Favorite Quote:
Think, Feel, And Believe.

Birthplace

Born:
6/4/1927
Birth Location:
Battlecreek, Michigan

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Education Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Rack of Lamb
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
U.S. Virgin Islands
Favorite Quote:
Think, Feel, And Believe.

Birthplace

Born:
6/4/1927
Birth Location:
Battlecreek
See how The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Barbara Lett Simmons was born on June 4, 1927, in Battlecreek, Michigan; she was raised in a traditional Seventh Day Adventist household, her mother working as a homemaker and her father was a lumberjack and coal contractor. In 1945, Simmons earned her high school diploma from Battlecreek Central High School, where she was a member of the volleyball, basketball, and debate teams; active in the Spanish and yearbook clubs; and worked on the school newspaper.

In 1949, Simmons earned her bachelor’s of art degree in sociology and education from Western Michigan University. While at WMU, Simmons was a member of the debate team, International Relations Club, and vice president of her senior class. From 1949 until 1962, Simmons taught in Detroit, Michigan, public schools, until her family relocated to Washington, D.C. From 1962 until 1965, Simmons taught in Montgomery County, Maryland (a Washington, DC suburb), public schools and was one of the first African American teachers to integrate its public school system. From 1967 until 1968 Simmons served as education coordinator for the Washington, D.C., Poverty Program. From there, Simmons worked for the Department of Education, training instructors to teach adult students until 1972; her work would become a national training module for fourteen states.

In 1972, Simmons formed BLS and Associates, a staff development and training consulting firm; the following year she was elected to the Washington, D.C. Board of Education, where she served until 1986. As a school board member, Simmons vigorously fought for the rights of poor and disabled students. In 1977 Simmons created and hosted a cable television and radio program entitled Educationally Speaking.

Active in the political process as well, during the 2000 presidential race Simmons made headlines when she, as a Democratic elector from the District of Columbia, abstained from voting for Al Gore in the Electoral College, going against expectations; this act was in protest of the District's lack of a voting representative in Congress. In 2004, Simmons led an unsuccessful effort to recall Washington, D.C., mayor Anthony Williams. Simmons was the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her civic leadership and work in education.

Barbra Lett Simmons passed away on December 22, 2012.

See how The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons talks about her mother's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her mother's childhood in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons talks about her father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her father's work in the coal industry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her extended family's presence in Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her paternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her paternal grandmother's political and social views
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her relative, Merze Tate
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons compares her maternal and paternal grandmothers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her maternal family's nursing studies
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her experiences growing up as a Seventh-day Adventist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons details her siblings, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons details her siblings, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her childhood household
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers her childhood community in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her elementary school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers seeking her father's approval as a student
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her childhood personality and activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons reflects upon her relationship with her father
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers her aspirations in social work
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers her experiences at Southwestern Junior High School in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers her father's reaction to her acceptance of welfare
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons reflects upon her father's family values
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes Battle Creek Central High School in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her activities at Battle Creek Central High School in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers being refused restaurant service in Indiana while traveling with her college debate team
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons explains why she chose Western Michigan College of Education in Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes Western Michigan College of Education in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the 1940s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons details her academic pursuits at Western Michigan College of Education in Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers the family she worked for in college
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers her experiences at Western Michigan College of Education in Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers marrying her husband and relocating to Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons recalls differences between living in Battle Creek and Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers the challenge of obtaining credit in Detroit, Michigan in the 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons recalls teaching at Russell School in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers teaching in Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers her housing search in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons reflects upon her civil rights involvement in Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons recalls working for the United Planning Organization
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes her employment with the U.S. Department of Education
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes starting her own business in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons remembers the Washington, D.C. Board of Education
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons recalls becoming chair of the Career/Vocational Technical Education committee in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons details the impact of the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons recalls the closure of vocational programs in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes the reopening of vocational programs in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons shares her opinion of Mayor Anthony A. Williams
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons reflects upon recalling Mayor Anthony A. Williams
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons recalls her defeat to Eleanor Holmes Norton
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons describes how she would like to be remembered and her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons narrates her photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lett Simmons narrates her photographs, pt. 3