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The amazing Ms. Drewry: Daughter of a McDowell County barber became first Black woman elected to serve in West Virginia House of Delegates

By Greg Jordan, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Overcoming obstacles was something that the daughter of a McDowell County barber became known for when she earned a college education, became a teacher in coal company town schools, won a difficult election and became the first Black woman elected to serve in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Elizabeth Simpson Drewry was born on Sept. 22, 1893 in Motley, Va. Her family later relocated to Elkhorn in McDowell County where her father, Grant Simpson, owned and operated a barber shop, according to a West Virginia Encyclopedia article by M. Lois Lucas. She attended McDowell County public schools and later attended the Bluefield Colored Institute, now Bluefield State College. From there, she entered the University of Cincinnati and graduated from what had, by then, become a Bluefield Collegiate Institute.

Through her work in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the National Association of Colored Women and her church, Drewry worked on community programs to help needy children and adults. She spoke out about the status of Black people in American society and stressed the importance of education…

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