Maude Callen on duty. In December 1951, LIFE published one of the most extraordinary photo essays ever to appear in the magazine. In W. Eugene Smith’s pictures, the story of a tireless South Carolina nurse and midwife named Maude Callen working in the rural South in the 1950s. She served as “doctor, dietician, psychologist, bail-goer and friend” to thousands of poor (most of them desperately poor) patients — only two percent of whom were white.
Educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown on her wedding day in 1912. Founder of the historic Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina, Ms. Brown was also one of the invaluable suffragists who worked for black women to have the same equal rights black men and white women were fighting for in the early 20th century.
African-American woman “weeps as she clutches infant after white policeman rescued the child from a teargas-filled home…. Woman’s hysteria, it was feared, might have touched off a new outbreak, but the rescue of four children inside the house calmed the crowd.” Atlanta Riot, 1966.