Prominent Eastern Iowa civil rights leader dies at 91

Anderson listed in Who's Who Among Black Americans

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March 28, 2014 | 10:24 am

Ruth B. Anderson, a longtime Cedar Valley community leader and pioneer in the local civil rights movement, passed away Tuesday. She was 91.

Anderson, a native of Sioux City, arrived in Waterloo in 1959 after earning a bachelor's degree from the University of California-Berkley and a master's degree from Columbia University School of Social Work in New York. She became the first African-American director of social services in Black Hawk County.

She became a professor of social work at UNI, where she won a legal battle with the university and was awarded a full professorship with tenure, after having previously been passed over. The out-of-court settlement was seen as a major victory for female professors at public universities in Iowa. She taught 22 years at UNI.

In 1988, Anderson became the first African-American elected to the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors.

In 1982, Anderson was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame and was a recipient of the Women of Achievement award in 1988. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Simpson College in Indianola. In 1992, at the end of her single term on the Board of Supervisors, she was names social worker of the year by the Iowa NASW.

In 1985 she published her autobiography, "From Mother's Aid Child to University Professor: The Autobiography of an American Black Woman." She was listed in Who's Who Among Black Americans in 1977.

In May 2012 he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Social Workers.

Services are pending at Sanders Funeral Service in Waterloo.

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