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Wilhelmina Rolark

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Information about Wilhelmina Rolark

Profile image of Wilhelmina Rolark

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Red
Favorite Food:
Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Keep On Pushing.

Birthplace

Born:
9/27/1916
Birth Location:
Portsmouth, Virginia

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Red
Favorite Food:
Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Keep On Pushing.

Birthplace

Born:
9/27/1916
Birth Location:
Portsmouth
See how Wilhelmina Rolark is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lifelong civil rights and community activist, attorney and politician Wilhelmina Rolark was born on September 27, 1916 in Portsmouth, Virginia. She attended Truxton elementary school in the Truxton area of Portsmouth until seventh grade. In 1933, Rolark graduated from I.C. Norcum High School in Portsmouth .

Following her high school graduation, Rolark attended Howard University from 1933-1937 where she earned bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees in political science. While at Howard, she studied under Ralph Bunche. In 1944, while working at the Treasury Department and going to law school at night, she earned her bachelor’s of law degree from the Robert H. Terrell Law School in Washington, D.C.

As a young attorney practicing law in the 1940s, she worked on many civil rights cases. In 1970, she founded the National Association of Black Women Attorneys. Following on the footsteps of a successful law career, she set her sights on politics.

In 1969, Rolark and her husband, the late Dr. Calvin Rolark, founded the United Black Fund, a non-profit organization that provides funding to community-based organizations. Rolark served as the group’s General Counsel, where she won major legal battles against United Givers Fund and the Civil Service Commission discriminating against black and other minorities.

In 1976, Rolark was elected to represent residents of Ward 8 on the Washington, D.C. city council, where she went on to serve four consecutive terms. While on the council, she chaired several committees including the committee on Employment and Economic Development, Public Service and Consumer Affairs and Judiciary. Rolark also served on the Sentencing Guidelines Commission of the D.C. Superior court.

As a legislator, Rolark was responsible for a number of laws including the legislation that created the D.C. Energy Office, the Bank Depository Act, the law that triples the penalties for PCP distribution and the law that brought cable television to D.C.

Upon the untimely death of her husband in 1994, she was unanimously elected as the President /CEO of the United Black Fund, a position she held for twelve years. Rolark also served on the National Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Rolark passed away on February 14, 2006.

See how Wilhelmina Rolark is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wilhelmina Rolark's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wilhelmina Rolark lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her paternal and maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes the importance of education in her family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wilhelmina Rolark shares her earliest childhood memories of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her siblings and her community in Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Wilhelmina Rolark remembers the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her experience at Truxton Elementary School in Portsmouth, Virginia and remembers childhood friends
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about The Norfolk Journal and Guide and her mother's communication skills
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wilhelmina Rolark remembers going to church as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her sister and the parties her family had
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her teenage years and I. C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her experience as an undergraduate at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about earning her master's degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and working in the U.S. Treasury Department
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her experience at Robert H. Terrell Law School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Wilhelmina Rolark explains how she learned to run a law practice
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about integration's effect on African American businesses
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about meeting her husband, Calvin Rolark
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes running for the Council of the District of Columbia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the incarceration of African Americans and its effect on African American families
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes the energy bill that created the D.C. Energy Office in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about chairing the judiciary committee of the Council of the District of Columbia and her efforts to reform sentencing guidelines
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wilhelmina Rolark reflects upon her achievements on the Council of the District of Columbia and segregated communities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the importance of young people voting
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her and her husband's involvement in the Southern Christian leadership Conference (SCLC)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In and the 1962 Howard Johnson Restaurant Sit-In
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the National Association of Black Women Attorneys
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wilhelmina Rolark recalls fighting to keep The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, D.C. open
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the United Black Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her concerns for the Washington, D.C. community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about working with Washington, D.C. mayors, including HistoryMaker Marion Barry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes her hope for the youth to vote
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the importance of education in the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about her column in The Washington Observer and affirmative action
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wilhelmina Rolark reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wilhelmina Rolark describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wilhelmina Rolark talks about the importance of history
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wilhelmina Rolark reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wilhelmina Rolark narrates her photographs