Lenora Rolla, 1994
Lenora Rolla (1904 - 2001) grew up part time in Fort Worth. After attending college, she worked various jobs, before ending up working for her uncle’s insurance company in Fort Worth, where she was able to gain insight into business practices. In 1936, Rolla moved to Washington, DC to work for Mary McLeod Bethune, who had been appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as Director of Negro Affairs. Rolla settled down with her husband in Fort Worth in 1945, and began exploring different career possibilities, like teaching and becoming Fort Worth’s first Black female postal clerk. In 1952, she became editor for the Dallas Express newspaper where she reported on national political events related to the Civil Rights Movement. Rolla was inspired, and brought the Civil Rights Movement to Fort Worth by fighting against poll taxes, for decent housing, and for the revitalization of Black neighborhoods and preservation of local Black history. Rolla was also a respected religious leader, speaking at the World Convention of the United Christian Missionary Society in 1953, serving the Community Christian Church for over 75 years, and founding the East Hattie Street Haven providing shelter, food, and clothing for those in need. Rolla was honored many times for her community organizing and religious work, including by being inducted into the Black Women’s Hall of Fame and winning the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Award for positive leadership.
Find more information on Lenora Rolla on the Texas State Historical Association Handbook to Texas.