In Memoriam: Ramona Edelin, 1945-2024

Ramona Edelin, longtime educator and activist for the African American community, passed away on February 19 at the age of 78.

Dr. Edelin’s career in higher education started in the 1970s with various teaching appointments at the University of Maryland, Emerson College in Boston, and Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. In 1972, she founded the first African American studies program at Northeastern University in Boston where she taught for five years. During this time, she was credited with helping to introduce the term “African American” into the vernacular of American academia.

In 1977, Dr. Edelin transitioned to the National Urban Coalition, eventually rising to the position of president and chief executive officer. The civil rights organization, headquartered in New York City, aims to elevate the standards of living for African Americans by collaborating with national and local community leaders, government offices, and corporate partners. Under Dr. Edelin’s tenure, the organization created numerous education programs, such as the Say Yes to a Youngster’s Future initiative, which provided STEM resources to children and teachers of color in urban settings.

Later in her career, Dr. Edelin joined the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Presidential Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. After leaving the foundation in 2002, she went on to serve for one year as vice president of policy and outreach for the Corporation for Enterprise Development. She later served as executive director of the District of Columbia Association of Charter Schools.

Dr. Edelin received her bachelor’s degree from historically Black Fisk University in Nashville. Shel held a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia in England and Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University.

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