Black History Month – Dorothy Ann King

Dorothy Ann Witt King was a community service and civil rights activists who advocated for economic opportunity and education for African Americans in Denver for 70 of her 100 years.

King was born to a railroad machinist and catering business owner on January 26, 1913. She attended school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, as a child, and Howard University for one year where she began her studies into African-American history. She then relocated to Chicago where she found employment with the Chicago Urban League which taught her how to refine her work within race-related situations.

She found her way to Denver, Colorado, on shopping trips with her mother, where she eventually met her husband, Frank King, who was the first African American to attend the School of Engineering at the University of Colorado.

Dorothy actively participated and created initiatives that were aimed at social betterment. She worked with young girls at Denver Parks & Recreation where she created the CANTEEN, a place where girls could dance, have fun, and learn. She also created a talent show called SHOWAGON, which performed at various Denver parks throughout the city.

King also brought to life The Silhouettes in Black History, a show that provided students who attended segregated schools opportunities to learn about famous African-American leaders by featuring performers portraying scientists, activists, cowboys, and more.

Keenly aware that economic opportunities were limited for Black women, King opened a laundry and ironing service in the 1970s that employed women who had difficulty finding employment due to limited skill sets. Personal Services, Inc. allowed its employees to set their own work hours and provided them financial stability for themselves and their families, keeping them off public assistance programs.

President Jimmy Carter presented King with the Historian Award for producing the first documentary on African-American history in the West.

Her legacy is a testament to the transformative efforts of individuals committed to breaking down barriers and creating a more just society.

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