Interview, Anna Byrd

June 11, 1980

Anna Byrd (1929-2010) was born in New Rochelle, New York, to family of six children. Byrd came to Rochester in 1957. She graduated from the Rochester Business Institute and later took courses at Monroe Community College. Byrd went to work for the Rochester Urban League in 1965 and held various there, including secretary, clerical teacher, program manager, interim director, and, at the time she was interviewed, manager of the training division. She was involved in a variety of community organizations as a volunteer for the International Personnel Women’s Association, secretary for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and member of the Human Relations Commission. Byrd passed away on January 19, 2010.

In this interview, Byrd talks about the Advancement in Clerical Training (ACT) program, job discrimination, and her belief in serving the community. Byrd says her volunteer work with community organizations inspired her to work for equal rights, equal employment, and equal housing in her professional life. She discusses how working with the Urban League in the 1960s taught her about housing, health, and employment problems in Rochester’s black community. Byrd explains that the ACT program that she worked for was started because employers, prompted by affirmative action, were unable to find minority females with adequate clerical skills. She notes that the program helps young women realize their potential for employment and advancement, and reports that more than one thousand women have gone through the ACT program and found entry-level clerical positions. Byrd feels that there were more opportunities for black people at the time of her interview than there had been in the 1950s, and she advises young people to get an education, challenge themselves, and work on self-development.

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  • 1980s