By Emma Rothberg
Through her work with various local and national organizations, Anna Arnold Hedgeman always fought for equal opportunity and respect, particularly for African American women. Throughout her long life, Hedgeman advocated for civil rights, education, social justice, poverty relief, and women.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman was born on July 5, 1899 to Mary Ellen Parker and William James Arnold II in Marshalltown, Iowa. From an early age, her father emphasized education and a strong work ethic, and she learned to read at home. When Hedgeman was young, her family moved to Anoka, Minnesota where her family was the only African American family in the community.
After graduating from high school in 1918, Hedgeman became the first African American person to attend Hamline University in St. Paul. While in college, she attended lectures by famous speakers, including W.E.B. Du Bois. Listening to Du Bois inspired her to become a teacher. She graduated in 1922 with a B.A. in English and immediately began looking for teaching jobs.