Gertrude Weil, 1879 - 1971
A broad dedication to social justice underlay Weil's commitments to the many causes dear to her heart. To her it was a given that all people deserved equal treatment. As she said in 1964, "I felt the same about suffrage as I felt about the interracial problem. I have never understood why we must talk and talk about it. It seems not a quetion [sic] for people to grow eloquent about. It is so obvious that to treat people equally is the right thing to do."
Weil's specific interest in race relations and civil rights dated back at least to her years at Smith. Debating such issues in her classes and at the Home Culture Club, she gained a theoretical knowledge of the social, economic and political context of the "interracial problem" that would prove useful in her civil rights work. With two black members, the Home Culture Club also gave Weil more social contact with the African-American community than she would have had as a child in Goldsboro.
Weil's later social service work, particularly as a Director of Public Relief Work in Goldsboro, exposed her directly to the wide gaps in education and living standards separating the black and white populations in her community. This practical knowledge, combined with her theoretical understandings, informed Weil's passionate commitment to challenging the prevailing social order and made her an effective civil rights advocate.
- Quotation cited in Frank Warren, "Miss Gertrude Weil," Goldsboro News-Argus, December 6, 1964.
- Information about Smith College and Home Culture Club from Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman, "Women and the Transformation of American Politics: North Carolina, 1898-1940," Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1995, 220.