Dorothy Hollingsworth, Black Educator Hall of Fame

E’ry day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer.

But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month. February is just the Blackest.

Today, our featured Black Educator is Dorothy Hollingsworth.

Dorothy Hollingsworth was born in Bishopville, South Carolina on October 29, 1920.

She attended and graduated from Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, NC, and received a scholarship from the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church to attend Paine University, an HBCU, in Augusta, GA. She chose a career in service to people, after attending a job fair in eighth grade. She graduated in 1941, with degrees in social science and education and was immediately hired as a third-grade teacher. It was then that she met her husband, Raft Hollingsworth, and the pair moved to Seattle, WA in 1946.

Once in Seattle, Hollingsworth applied for a teaching position with Seattle’s public schools. She was denied. She didn’t let that discourage her. Hollingsworth became an investigator for the state Department of Welfare and she received her master’s degree in social work in 1959 from the University of Washington. She was hired by Seattle Public Schools shortly thereafter as a social worker.

Hollingsworth also used her voice for Civil Rights. She became involved with the local civil rights movement, protesting restrictive covenants and championing open housing initiatives throughout the city.

In 1965, she was selected by the Seattle School District to be the Director of Head Start in the city as part of President Johnson’s war on poverty effort. Hollingsworth established, organized, and implemented the program according to the federal guidelines from 1965 to 1969. As a result of her work, she was appointed to the Sesame Street national advisory board. In 1969, Hollingsworth served as the deputy director of planning for Seattle’s Model Cities Program, an initiative designed to fight urban poverty.

Next, she became Seattle’s associate director of project planning, overseeing 46 separate projects in education, arts and culture, economic development, job training, health, welfare, and legal services. In 1975, Hollingsworth was elected to the Seattle School Board, the first Black woman to hold a seat. In 1984, she was elected to the state board of education, where she served until 1993.

Awards and honors have been heaped upon Hollingsworth, a woman of extraordinary energy and talent. Among them are the Matrix Table Award, 1976; Edwin T. Pratt Award, 1986; Nordstrom’s Cultural Diversity Award, 1992; and the Isabel Colman Pierce Award, 1994. Hollingsworth passed away on July 26, 2022, at the age of 101.

Dorothy Hollingsworth; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame. For more information on Dorothy Hollingsworth, visit the following site.


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