Frances Albrier: A Life Dedicated to Civil Rights and Community Service

April 19, 2023 2:46 PM | Jennifer Sheriff

Frances Albrier was an accomplished social activist and advocate for civil rights. She was born on September 21, 1898, in Mt. Vernon, New York, and was raised by her grandparents in Tuskegee, Alabama, following the death of her mother when she was just three years old. Albrier graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1920, and later moved to Berkeley, California, where she met and married her husband, William Albert Jackson.

Frances Albrier becomes an Activist

Unable to find work as a nurse due to segregation in the Bay Area, Albrier took a job as a maid with the Pullman Company in 1926. While working as a Pullman car maid, she met her second husband, Willie Antoine Albrier, and the two were married in 1934. During the late 1930s, Albrier became involved in various political and civil rights issues, including joining Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and Black Cross Nurse Corps. She also became the first woman elected to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee in 1938 and ran for Berkeley City Council the following year, becoming the first woman to do so.

Albrier was an active member of many women's, civil rights, and union organizations throughout the 1940s, and she served as a first aid instructor in the American Red Cross. In 1943, after her application to become a welder was denied because blacks did not have an auxiliary union in Richmond, she garnered political pressure in the black community, forcing Kaiser Shipyards to hire her. She became the first black woman welder during World War II, breaking down barriers in the workforce and paving the way for others.

Honoring a Legacy of Social Justice

Following the war, Albrier continued to be active in politics, women’s organizations, and civil rights issues. She served as president of many Bay Area organizations, co-chaired local political campaigns, and became an advocate of senior citizens in the 1960s and 1970s. Albrier also dedicated herself to promoting black history and culture, giving presentations to students in the Oakland Public School system and serving as president of both the San Francisco Negro Historical and Cultural Society and the East Bay Negro Historical Society.

For her community service and many contributions to civil rights in the Bay Area, the City of Berkeley renamed the San Pablo Park Community Center in her honor in 1984. Albrier passed away in 1987, leaving behind a legacy of activism, perseverance, and dedication to social justice. She is a true inspiration for all those who seek to make a positive impact on their communities and the world.

Mailing Address:
P O BOX 72234
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-574-7955

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